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Conner Stacy's Big Night 9/20/21

For You, Dad

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools


With sweat dripping from his chin, Conner Stacy stood tall in Alma’s mostly empty field house, the raw emotion from a topsy-turvy few days tugging at his heart. 


It was 37 minutes after 9, and most of his teammates had expressed their love before returning to Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium to take part in 2021 post-game celebrations - Instagram and social media pics. 


“I’m really not that tired,” Stacy said. “I feel like I could run through a wall.”


Friday, while his dad lay in a Fort Smith hospital, watching via Alma’s Livestream feed, Stacy went all Randy Moss by helping his teammates pull out a thrilling 28-27 victory at Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium. 


It wasn’t as if Stacy caught every one of Joe Trusty’s 25 pass completions, but it sure seemed that way. 


Stacy did everything in his power to will his teammates to a win they desperately needed. 


“It’s weird, whenever I’m in the game, I don’t hear anyone,” Stacy said. “I go back and watch it on the Livestream because then I can hear the chants people are saying and I can hear people yelling.


“During the game, I don’t hear anything.”


Stacy’s dad, Curtis, had surgery Thursday. Friday afternoon, Alma trainer Patti Webb surprised him with a pair of receivers gloves. Curtis also wrapped his wrists with white tape and wrote: “For Curtis.”


Stacy’s dad was on his mind. 


“My dad, he just had a brain tumor removed,” he said. “Our trainers, and Ms. Patti, she got decals for everybody and everybody’s wearing blue ribbons supporting him. This is the first one (game) that I haven’t seen him in the stands, so it meant a lot more (a record). I knew he would be watching from the hospital; I know that’s not where he wants to be, so I tried to take his mind off it. 


Stacy caught eight passes in each half, but it was his biggest catch that didn’t go in the record books — an unbelievable interception off a tipped pass — that helped the team seal the victory. 


“Props to him; he (Poole) goes out and works his tail off every day,” Stacy said. “If it wasn’t for that tip, I don’t know if I would have been able to get the ball.”


Alma (1-2) fell behind in the gasp of a minute. Actually, it was 6-0 Heritage before most of Stacy’s classmates had settled into their seats. Eli Craig dashed 78 yards untouched for a touchdown with 11:50 left in the first quarter. 


Touchdown runs by Brady Noyes and Trusty gave Alma a 14-13 lead after one. 


Then, after giving up 339 first-half yards, and spotting the War Eagles a 27-14 cushion, Alma defensive coordinator Ernest Pressley’s crew dialed in, limiting Heritage to just 52 second-half yards. 


Meanwhile, Stacy, his heart aching, continued to battle. 


“There were a few times I kind of got down on myself about my poor dad,” Stacy said. “But I got the energy. I did everything for him … that was all for him.”


“It was unbelievable what he had to go through,” Alma quarterback Joe Trusty said. “He watching the game his hospital bed; I know he had to be proud.”


Trusty’s effort was also one for the record books. The first-year starter completed 25-of-28 passes for 285 yards, including the game-winner to Stacy that covered 44 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. 


“That was all him,” Trusty said. “He caught the ball and just kept making people miss.”


Before Friday’s game, Trusty was 20-of-43 through two games. Now, if the season were to end, he’d be in the top four all-time for passing percentage. 


“He leads me perfectly,” Stacy said. “He keeps me safe; he throws the ball where the defender isn’t going to be. He trusts me because I trust him.”


Stacy slipped into the end zone from a yard out with 5:36, a masterful 11-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 6:24 off the clock. 


Pressley’s defense, which had given up runs of 75 and 82 yards in the first half, forced Heritage to punt on its first series. And, when the War Eagles’ 56-yard punt rolled into the end zone, Trusty and company went back to work with another 80-yard drive. 


This time, the drive was cut short when Stacy, taking a short pass in the flat, zig-zagged his way for a 44-yard touchdown reception. 


Devin Ramos’ extra-point boot put the Airedales ahead 28-27. 

Stacy’s big night smashed former Airedale great Brayden Johnson’s previous team marks. In 2016, Johnson had 186 yards record in a 27-26 loss to Springdale in  2016 loss to Springdale. A year later, Johnson hauled in 12 receptions during Alma’s 35-31 loss to Maumelle.