Soccer: WCA-Ashby, Pillager play in memory of Tyler Stone – Alexandria Echo Press

PILLAGER – The West Central Area-Ashby football team earned a 35-13 victory over the Pillager Huskies in an emotional game after the Knights lost their friend, teammate and classmate Tyler Stone, who passed away in a car accident on September 11, 2022.

“I think it was really weird going into the game because everyone was feeling a little numb,” WCA-Ashby head coach Nate Wood said. “It’s been such a tough week; it feels like a month since we played a football game. Nobody really knew what to expect. I think we were able to get into the moment a little bit as far as having a normal Friday playing football, getting excited and having fun. But I felt like as the game progressed, reality kept coming back. And then in the end, even though we won the game, I felt like he did it again on Monday, where everything hurts.”

Stone, who was a senior in high school, wrestled, pitched for the track team and was an integral part of the WCA-Ashby soccer program that has been very successful in recent years.

In Friday’s game, Stone’s jersey was placed on the WCA-Ashby bench along with his helmet throughout the game.

“It’s hard not to see it with us,” senior Anthony Sykora said. “I know he’s looking up to us and cheering us on.”

The Knights wore stickers on the back of their helmets that read “#StoneStrong,” and the coaches, along with some fans, wore school sportswear with the same slogan.

Stone had a deep passion for football that was clear to those around him.

His fun-loving personality left a positive impact on those who knew him.

Football TylerStone.jpg
Tyler David Stone, 18, of Hoffman, was a multi-sport athlete at West Central Area High School. Stone died on September 11, 2022 in a two-vehicle accident in Grant County.

Photo provided by Tammie Olson Photography

“He was my best friend,” Sykora said. “I’m heartbroken. He’s still bringing me down, and I love him so much.”

Wood’s message to the team before the game was simple and based on playing in the moment.

“I wanted them to use this as an opportunity to get away from it all, isolate themselves from the rest of the world and play soccer on a Friday night,” Wood said. “We wanted them to have fun and not think about what’s going to happen tomorrow or what’s going to happen this week and just live in the moment.”

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Wood said the support the community has received from many different groups has been excellent.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Wood said. “Just the amount of support from high schools, from colleges to people reaching out has been absolutely incredible. This really shows how much we all mean to each other and how much we mean to each other. I think that’s maybe the only positive we can get out of this. Everybody matters. You mean a lot to everyone.

Stone’s funeral will be held Saturday at 2 pm at the WCA football field in Barrett, with visitation beginning at noon until the time of the service.

As for the game itself, it began with a moment of silence to pay respects to Stone, Pillager’s Laney Danielson and Brainerd’s Conner Erickson.

Laney Danielson, age 13, passed away on September 4, 2022 in a boating accident. Funeral services for her are Saturday at 2 pm at the Pillager Public School.

Erickson, 17, is a Brainerd High School football player who suffered a major head injury in a game on September 14. Erickson underwent brain surgery and appears to be showing positive signs of recovery.

The Knights got the ball first in Friday’s game. The Knights ran out with only 10 players on the field and everyone took a knee and had another moment of silence, as did the Huskies. The Huskies declined the delay of game penalty.

After a few plays in the game, Sykora broke free on a 55-yard touchdown run to put the Knights up 7-0. Once in the end zone, Sykora pointed both index fingers in the air and gave Stone a message.

“I pointed both fingers to the sky to say, ‘That was for you,’” Sykora said.

Sykora said scoring that touchdown felt different to him because Stone was one of the blockers who blocked for him.

The Knights added two points to their lead after a high snap on a punt led the Huskies to give up a safety with just under seven minutes left in the first quarter.

Pillager got on the board with a 62-yard interception return for an Eli Miller touchdown near the middle of the second quarter to make it 9-7.

WCA added two more touchdowns late in the second quarter, with junior Brady Lindquist connecting with senior Cole Anderson on a 21-yard pass and Sykora connecting with Anderson on a 36-yard pass to take a 21-7 lead before the half. weather.

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On the Knights’ first possession of the second half, Sykora broke free again for a rushing touchdown, this one 74 yards that put the Knights up by three touchdowns.

Sykora completed the scoring for the Knights with another touchdown pass to Anderson late in the third quarter, this one from 19 yards.

“I thought we were clicking pretty well when we were confident,” Wood said. “Offensively, we liked the way things were going and we were kind of in our groove and chasing it. Then once something bad happened, he pushed us back a little bit. And we started to overthink things again, and we went back to some of the mistakes we had made earlier in the year. But overall, I think we blocked very well up front and played with a lot of determination in a really difficult moment.”

Pillager scored the last on a four-yard run by Christian Hooge to give Pillager 13 points overall.

The Knights are now 2-1 (2-0 Section 6AA) on the season, and the Huskies are 0-3 (0-1 Section 6AA). The Knights have outscored opponents 84-49 this season and have outscored their last two opponents 78-20.

WCA-Ashby returns home to face Hawley (1-2) at 7 pm on September 23.

“Our coaches always preach about sticking together and playing as a family, and they really mean it,” Sykora said. “That’s what we’re going to do, and that’s what Tyler would want.”

WCA-Ashby – 9 12 14 0 – 35

Looter – 0 7 0 6 – 13

PUNCTUATION –

1st –

WCA – Anthony Sykora, 55-yard dash, 11:10 (7-0 WCA)

WCA – Team Safety, 6:52, (9-0 WCA)

2nd –

PILL – Eli MIller, 62-yard interception return, 7:54 (9-7 WCA)

WCA – Cole Anderson, Brady Lindquist 21-yard reception, 4:48, PAT lost (15-7 WCA)

WCA – Cole Anderson, 36-yard catch from Anthony Sykora, 1:31, Missed PAT (21-7 WCA)

3rd –

WCA – Anthony Sykora, 74-yard run, 9:40, good 2-point conversion (Lunquist to Anderson) (29-7 WCA)

WCA – Cole Anderson, 19-yard reception from Anthony Sykora, 2:08, 2-point conversion not good (35-7 WCA)

4th –

PILL – Christian Hooge, 4-yard run, lost PAT, 11:18 (35-13 WCA)

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