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Award winner taking care of business on, off the field

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Jayden McKoy was a busy football player this season.

The Miles Macdonell Buckeye — who was named the winner of the Winnipeg High School Football League’s Harry Hood Memorial Trophy and the Potter Division’s offensive player of the year on Nov. 28 — was listed as a quarterback, but that hardly begins to describe his contributions to the team.

"I wouldn’t say he was the best quarterback in the league," said Miles Mac head coach Dan Washnuk. "He was far and away the best football player and athlete."

After starting the season at wide receiver, McKoy moved under centre and led the Buckeyes all the way to the ANAVETS Bowl, which they lost to St. Paul’s.

He also played safety, returned punts and kickoffs, and at the end of the season was Miles Mac’s punter.

McKoy only passed for three touchdowns, but he ran for 10 more, returned two interceptions all the way and took three kick returns the distance.

The switch to quarterback was a major adjustment for the St. Vital resident, who started his football career with the Mustangs.

"It was a big difference cerebrally," said the Grade 12 student. "I had to know the entire offence, what every player was doing on every play. I had to read defences. It’s a lot different from playing receiver."

And if all that wasn’t enough, McKoy had to attend defensive and special-teams meetings and learn all those schemes.

"It was a lot of meetings, and a lot of film," he said.

The Harry Hood award is about more than just football. The winner is a player who shows academic achievement, school citizenship and demonstrates fair play.

McKoy maintains a 94% average in his French immersion studies while contributing to the school’s We Day group and other extra-curricular activities. He plans to play university football while studying mechanical, electrical or computer engineering next year.

"It definitely means a lot (to win the award)," he said. "It shows that football is just one part of life. There are other things to take care of."

Next season, the Buckeyes won’t need to find one player to replace McKoy — they’ll need to find four.

"Without him we would have been nowhere near as successful as we were," Washnuk said. "We had some talented players, but he was the final piece of the puzzle."

McKoy is the second Buckeye to win the Harry Hood award in the last four years, joining 2009 winner Bryton Balzer.

"I think Miles Mac is certainly a gifted school athletically," Washnuk said, "but our focus is always on academics first. We have some special players, and their academics gets highlighted."

It was also the fourth consecutive year that a Buckeye was named the offensive player of the year in their division, and the second straight year in which the school’s coaching staff was honoured as tops in the league.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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