November 09, 2010
If a middle school quarterback sneak has provided the best trick play of the 2010 season, which has been the biggest flop? That may be impossible to tell, but the video you see below from Friday's game between Watauga (N.C.) High and St. Stephens (N.C.) High has to be a serious contender.
The player you see doing handsprings just behind the line of scrimmage is Watauga senior placekicker Cam Haas, who lined up as a wide receiver along the left side of the line on a two-point conversion. The point-after attempt was being attempted from the 18-yard line after penalties pushed the Pioneers back. Before the ball was snapped, Haas started as if he was going to shift in motion like a traditional receiver, then spontaneously began a series of handsprings, eventually stopping after his fifth.
According to Watauga coach Tim Pruitt, the play was chosen by the team's seniors before the game when the coach offered them the choice to have one play run during the course of their final game. When he was told the Pioneers wanted to run Haas' handspring play, he said he would do his best, and then took a chance on it when his team was facing an unlikely two-point conversion, anyway.
"I made the wrong choice," Pruitt told Prep Rally. "And I am a lot more regretful than you might think."
Flags flew before Haas could reach the other side of the field, and the fill-in receiver was assessed an excessive celebration penalty. More significantly, both the kicker and Pruitt were ejected immediately afterwards.
Precisely why the pair was given the boot is uncertain. GoBlueRidge.net reported that the two were kicked out because of the play itself, but the penalty was not technically due an ejection, so other possibilities are available. One of those was provided to RivalsHigh senior analyst Dallas Jackson, who had a source report that Haas was ejected because of the play and an earlier flag for a tinted visor and an additional unsportsmanlike penalty assessed for an inappropriate comment from a Watauga assistant coach after the play added up to earn Pruitt's ban.
Whatever the cause of the flag, the failed conversion was costly for the Pioneers. After Watauga rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter, St. Stephen's was able to put together one final drive for a game-winning field goal within the final minute for a 31-28 victory. If Watauga had scored either Pruitt's conversion or let the kicker attempt a lengthy extra point, the Pioneers might have been able to focus more on ball-possession offense to try and maintain a lead rather than fight for a last-minute win.
"I don't feel I deserved to be ejected," Pruitt told GoBlueRidge.net. "I hate I got kicked out and it's only the second time it's ever happened in my head-coaching career (the other time was at Cherryville). We were at the 18-yard line. How many times are you going to make a two-point conversion from the 18?
"We met with the officials before the game and they didn't say anything about trick plays. I was the one that brought it up. I knew we were going to get flagged, but I decided to run the play anyway. Looking back at it, obviously it wasn't a good decision. But if he had told me he was kicking him out of the game for it, I would have never ran it."
[Beyond backflips: Best touchdown celebrations]
How did Haas react to the ejection?
"They ejected me for excessive celebration ... whatever, it was worth it!" he wrote on the YouTube page that hosts the video.