Win or lose in the first round of District play Thursday night, senior Dylan Jeffries has left his mark on the School of the Osage football program.
The wide receiver set a school record in Osage's overtime loss to Hallsville by topping the 2,000-yard mark in total yards received. What's more impressive, the young man did so in just two seasons on the Indians' varsity squad.
Jeffries played as a freshman, but on the junior varsity team. In his sophomore year, he broke his arm and missed most of the season. And last year he missed a week because of a shoulder separation in the California game.
Neither Jeffries nor Coach Dan Henderson has up-to-date statistics, but they estimate through the Oct. 25 win over Warsaw that Jeffries had more than 2,100 yards in receiving. Osage played Salem Thursday night in the first round of the districts, so his career totals will be even more.
The 6'1", 180-pound receiver's junior season was one of epic proportions in which he led the state of Missouri in receiving yards, had 83 catches in 12 games and was named first team all-state. Jeffries estimates he had more than 150 catches before the Salem game.
His play last year drew some attention, along with his performance at a Regional Combine in St. Joseph this past April ― he received an invitation to the National Super Football Combine in Las Vegas last July 13 and 14.
"He has great hands and a good work ethic," Henderson said in an understatement. "He's a great kid, fun to be around. It rubs off on our younger guys in his group."
His prowess on the field has caught the attention of other teams as well. Coach Henderson said Jeffries is often double-teamed, "and that has made us better as a team, and our other receivers better as well."
He only had two catches at Warsaw because of the extra coverage.
Jeffries says his interest in football seemed to escalate when he was about 7, although he was playing football and catch with his dad as early as 4. He began playing in the Osage youth program in the third grade.
His dad, Lonnie, has been a source of football wisdom for him over the years. He's a former OHS football player.
"I never actually had the chance to see him play, but he has always been my drive and is the reason I am who I am today," Jeffries said in a Lake Sun interview earlier this year. "He knows the game well and has taught me a lot."
Jeffries recalls as a little boy he watched football with his dad.
"I thought it was a big dog pile and whoever was on top they won," he recalled during a follow-up interview this week.
Page 2 of 2 - Dylan's mom, Dawn, remembers the early years much the same way.
"His interest came early, as early as he could throw a ball," she recalled. "His dad played football at Osage on the line, so of course he wanted Dylan to play football. But he knew Dylan wasn't bulky enough to play on the line so he started throwing passes to him in the yard. All the time! He told him that to be a good receiver, he'd have to learn to go to the ball. He and his dad are both pretty athletic, and he's got his dad's determination."
Dylan has carried that determination throughout his football career. How does he stay motivated?
"I realize that every play could be my last, and I don't want that to happen," he explained.
His days as a wide receiver for the Indians are waning, so he has turned his attention to playing post-secondary football.
"After I graduate, I plan to play someplace. I've gotten some invitations, and I'll check them out. I haven't decided on a college yet," he said.
He hopes to major in history and become a history teacher.
Without a doubt, the most memorable moment in his high school career came when he surpassed the 2,000-yard mark.
"I knew going in to the Hallsville game I had 1,999 yards. So, when I caught my first pass I knew it was the record ― and it turned out to be a touchdown," Dylan recalled.
The senior is an honor roll student. Academics and athletics have combined to bring him success. But there's something else that sits on his shoulder.
"What really pushes me off the field is that my sister, Brittany, died from a car accident in the fourth grade. Whenever I get down, I think of her," he said.
His mother concurs: "Dylan has always been an outgoing kid. He's always cared about other kids and would help however he could."
His coach agrees: "He's one of those kids with good character and always does the right thing."