Richland HS football player honored with NFL Way to Play High School Award

RICHLAND, Wash. — For a young football player, reaching the NFL is the ultimate dream — An opportunity to etch your name into history at the highest level of the sport. Many give their best effort when trying to reach the professional ranks of America’s most popular sport, which makes Richland High School football player Deacon Boyce’s most recent achievement all the more special.

“I feel pretty cool, that’s something I never thought would of actually happened,” Junior Deacon Boyce said.

The NFL and Hudl, a company that provides development and media tools for coaches and players, announced the next recipient of their ‘NFL Way to Play High School Award,’ which is given to a handful of high school football players throughout the year. A jack of all trades, Deacon Boyce of Richland High School is the recipient of the Week 23 award.

“Deacon’s a genuinely kind, compassionate young man, and I could talk forever about him,” Head Varsity Coach Mike Neidhold said.

Boyce is a modern, positionless athlete who is listed at the wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback and strong safety positions. He’s a versatile and physical player who combines great intangibles and a strong understanding of the game. His blocking is advanced for a player of his age and his ability to hunt down offensive players is a treat to watch.

“It brings like a different type of joy to me it just makes me feel good inside and I really like it,” Boyce said he’s been playing football since he was seven years old.

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In light of pandemic-imposed changes to the high school football schedule, the NFL and Hudl extended the 2020 NFL Way to Play High School Award by an additional 17 weeks, running through June 12, 2021. This way, the awards can accommodate all of the high schools nationwide that pushed high school into the Spring due to COVID-19.

The NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations is Troy Vincent — A five-time NFL Pro Bowler who was also named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2002. He issued the following statement regarding Boyce’s award:

“These tremendous young student athletes who are recognized with the Way to Play Award clearly demonstrate proper form and technique that reduces unnecessary risk and improves the athlete’s quality of play.”

Vincent wasn’t the only noteworthy figure to cast a vote for this award. He was joined by an esteemed group from the NFL Football Operations Department including Jon Runyan, Roman Oben, Kevin Boothe and Phil Bogle.

Since Boyce won the award, Richland High School is being awarded a $1,500 equipment grant from USA Football to re-invest into the program.

“With no fans this year and no fundraising that’ll go a long ways toward getting us our helmets,” Neidhold said the money will definitely go to good use.

Head coaches, players and retired legends from around the NFL made training videos to assist football teams in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those resources can be found here.

With an accolade like this under his belt, Boyce is on a great trajectory to find himself as a player and a person in his next steps.

“I’m really excited it’s gonna be a super fun year, I think we’re gonna be super good this year. I personally think we’re gonna have one of the best classes at Richland High School, and it’s just going to be a great year, I’m excited,” Boyce said.

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