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EDN FOOTBALL PLAYER AND DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Effingham’s Pontious, Heil finish robust careers by serving to Flaming Hearts attain playoffs | Native Sports activities

Since Effingham head coach Brett Hefner took over as Flaming Hearts head coach, he has had the posh of getting a high quality sign caller behind heart.

The 2022 season was no completely different.

Senior Tanner Pontious carved his personal path on the sector throughout his two seasons as Effingham’s beginning quarterback.

Pontious completed his profession by finishing 145 of his 269 passes (53.9 completion fee) for 1,896 yards. He threw 22 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

However he wasn’t only a risk within the pocket.

Pontious was additionally nice at scrambling, ending his senior season with 141 carries for 511 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The place Pontious provides credit score to probably the most for that, although, is the Effingham Junior Hearts Soccer (JFL) program and his head coach, Jared Simmons.

“The one factor I took from JFL was my coach. He was various and knew what he was speaking about; we ran numerous completely different stuff,” Pontious mentioned. “He used me with my toes and arm and made me do many issues that some individuals on the JFL stage would not have completed.”

However simply because he realized lots throughout his youth soccer profession does not imply he stopped studying as soon as he acquired to the highschool stage.

For the reason that first sport he began — a highway contest in opposition to Decatur St. Teresa — Pontious mentioned he realized learn how to keep composed and develop as a passer.

“I wanted to compose myself within the pocket and keep calm, not rush issues,” Pontious mentioned. “My junior season, I rushed numerous issues and threw fairly just a few picks, and that is not what you wish to do.”

That technique labored.

Pontious went from throwing eight interceptions his junior yr to 4 his senior yr.

Hefner famous that drastic enchancment as soon as Pontious suited up in opposition to the Bulldogs once more to open the 2022 season.

“The factor the place he drastically improved because the yr went alongside was how he threw the ball. Early in his profession, he didn’t throw the ball that nicely and have become a wonderful passer, a way more correct thrower,” Hefner mentioned. “You solely noticed just a few catchable balls — that is the place I believed he made the largest transition.”

Pontious’ numbers did not lie, both.

The 2022 Effingham Each day Information Participant of the Yr, Pontious completed his senior season by finishing 56.5 % of his passes for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns to the aforementioned 4 interceptions.

Nonetheless, these numbers did not come to him in a single day; challenges did come up alongside the best way, most notably dropping his beginning working again within the first half of Week 1.

“John (Westendorf) was an enormous loss for what we thought on the time,” Pontious mentioned. “However, we had guys step up into the spot, and we performed with what we had.”

Adversity by no means received, although.

Pontious did.

“It was a superb time,” mentioned Pontious reflecting on his group at Effingham. “I am not wanting again at it and saying, ‘Dang, I want we might have completed this and that,’ as a result of I believe we did all we might with what we had.”

Whereas Pontious will miss his Effingham teammates, Hefner will likewise miss his quarterback, acknowledging the continuity that he and Pontious had, and the nice and unhealthy instances they’ve been collectively.

“The good factor with him is that the extra time you spend with any individual, the extra you get to know them, and the factor I appreciated about him was that within the COVID yr, we deliberate on enjoying him some, after which he had his foot damage and wasn’t capable of play. So, his junior yr was trial-by-fire, Hefner mentioned.


Logan Heil proved to be one of many major numbers known as when an opponent was tackled this yr by an Effingham participant.

Heil completed his senior season with 49 whole tackles (27 solo and 22 assisted), good for second on a protection that allowed 197 factors (19.7 factors per sport) over the yr. He was certainly one of six Flaming Coronary heart defenders with 40-or-more tackles on the season, too.

Taking part in on that facet of the sector is nothing new to the 6-foot-3 and 240-pound defensive lineman, although.

Since his days in JFL, Heil mentioned he is by no means wished to play on offense; he is at all times been defensive-minded.

“I’ve by no means actually favored enjoying offense by way of junior excessive. It was no matter I might do to assist the group,” Heil mentioned. “I used to be attempting to get stops so the offense might get the ball and sustain the depth.”

That depth solely elevated till his ultimate sport, a 45-14 loss to Rochester within the first spherical of the Class 4A Playoffs.

Heil, although, will not dwell on that one contest. As a substitute, he was happier to assist lead his again to the “promised land” after one yr faraway from not making it in any respect.

“It was good as a result of we hadn’t been capable of. (My junior yr), we did not play very nicely, and we missed it, however this yr made it really feel like I used to be all value it,” Heil mentioned.

Hefner additionally counseled Heil’s arduous work and angle as a cause for that success.

“He is a enjoyable child to be round and desires to do nicely,” Hefner mentioned. “The massive factor is that he goes arduous, and we’re lucky that lots of our youngsters, however him particularly, play arduous.

“We acquired some youthful guys that ended up enjoying and enjoying lots, and hopefully, they noticed how he went about his work and the hassle that he put in, and hopefully, they proceed that going ahead.”

What additionally helped Heil obtain that success was his gifted athletic capability.

Heil is a three-sport athlete at Effingham, enjoying basketball and competing in monitor and subject.

Hefner mentioned that solely helps that athleticism additional.

“The extra you are able to do, the extra athletic you will grow to be, which helped him,” Hefner mentioned.


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