Last week, Loganville was in a heated overtime thriller against Monroe Area that went into quadruple overtime. The Red Devils ended up winning the game 45-39, and it was a trick play that sealed the deal.
Monroe Area had already conceded the football with no points in the first part of the 4th overtime, and after a long night of football, Loganville was looking to stimulate some offense on 3rd and 7. They lined up in the Wing T formation with their star back Solomon Leslie behind center. What initially looked like a run play to the right, turned into a handoff to senior Connor O’Neill who inexplicable was running the wrong direction as everyone else. As soon as O’Neill touched the football he flipped it over his head. The ball lofted over the defense, who was completely perplexed, and into the arms of 6’4″ senior tight end Joshua Ruder who went sliding into the end zone for the game-winning score.
The play went viral with media outlets across the country highlighting the amazing trick play, and ultimately made our #1 play of Week 1 here in the state of Georgia. We talked to the recipient of the game-winning trick play Joshua Ruder, who broke down the action.
“We practiced the play once a day, all last week.” Ruder then talked about the virality of the play spread across the nation. “To be honest I haven’t felt any different. One play doesn’t define the whole season. We have to come back next week and bring the same energy. We can’t be satisfied.”
We have actually seen this play before; just last year in fact with Fitzgerald beating Irwin County in the final minute of regulation (coincidentally that also won the top play of the week too). Coach Brad Smith of Loganville broke down the action when he talked with Georgia High School Football Daily earlier this week.
“If you go back and look at old-school wing-T from the 1950s, it’s called a flap jack play. Our defensive coordinator, Ryan Angel, pitched me on it. He ran it last year at Ola High School, and he showed me a clip of it and another one that Tucker Pruitt ran at Fitzgerald last year. I said that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, and he said it’s just crazy enough to work, and that’s how we left it. But we’re always showing things at practice, and it was just an end-of-practice thing from the goal line. We practiced it a total of three times, and it only worked once out of three. And it was always at the 2-yard line, never from the 13 on third down and seven.”
Smith told GHSF Daily that O’Neill was playing in his first football game ever and is more of a hype man on the sideline than having a huge role on the team. “Well, that’s a heck of a way to go. You go viral in your first game ever,” Smith said.
Joshua Ruder, the senior on the receiving of the trick play is a new transfer from Loganville Christian who was primarily a QB last year. The 6’4″ athlete has been adjusting quickly at his new school.
“Senior year has been a blast. I am really enjoying the people and the program at Loganville a lot. We have a tight group who supports each other on and off the field which contributes to our team chemistry.”
Ruder has been adjusting to new positions for the Red Devils and credits the coaches for making the transition so seamless.
“I’m most comfortable at the TE and LB positions because it is way less pressure on my shoulders and I can just play football without stress. The awesome players and coaches have made it super easy for me to transfer. They all accepted me immediately and I was embraced as an important addition to the team, not just treated like a new guy.”
On the recruiting front, Ruder is a prospect for colleges to become familiar with. At 6’4″ and 225 lbs. he has the frame that will attract D1 programs. The senior also came up with an interception off a tipped pass earlier in the game and also caught another touchdown pass on top of the game-winner.
The start of the season has been nothing short of great for Loganville and their senior class. They have been on the national stage this week with media outlets and football coaches around the country talking about the chicanery they pulled off in order to win in the 4th overtime. The squad will face off against Discovery this Friday and hopes to start the year 2-0.