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In Play with Craig Mattick: Austin Sumner

Austin Sumner
South Dakota State University

He put up record breaking numbers at Brandon Valley and then went on to have a successful collegiate career at quarterback for South Dakota State University. Austin Sumner knows a lot about being a South Dakotan, and playing quarterback. He's currently on staff helping the quarterbacks at Sioux Falls Jefferson high school.

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Craig Mattick:
Welcome to another edition of In Play. I'm Craig Mattick. Today's guest, one of the all-time great passing quarterbacks in South Dakota. He passed for over 7,600 yards in high school, but then when he got to college, he passed for almost 9,500 yards. And now, he's a quarterback coach at Sioux Falls Jefferson High School. And it's with his college team mate, who's the head coach. He's Brandon Valley's Austin Sumner. Austin, welcome to In Play.

Austin Sumner:
Thanks, Craig. Thanks for having me, man.

Craig Mattick:
The first time I saw you play at Brandon Valley, for the Lynx, I don't remember who you were playing against, but Mike Henriksen and I were doing a Brandon Valley football game on the radio, at Brandon. You rolled out to the far sideline at the opponent's 40-yard line, and you stopped, and you just flicked the football, and it flew more than 40 yards for a completed pass. I mean, you just flicked the ball almost 50 yards. It looked so effortless, speed and precision.

Mike and I just looked at each other with our mouths wide open. We couldn't believe what we just witnessed. We knew we were watching an exciting, young and strong quarterback. We've broadcast a lot of football games by then, and we knew that Austin Sumner was going to be a kid that could be special. So when it comes to playing quarterback, at what age did coaches there, at Brandon, put you in that quarterback role?

Austin Sumner:
Well, I played quarterback in the Pee Wee Football days and then into middle school, but middle school, I was actually the B team quarterback my eighth grade year, and then got into high school and grew significantly, and could chuck it around little bit. So went from the eighth grade B team to JV that next year, as a quarterback, and backed up Andrew Bauer, on the varsity squad. So Garrow recognized the arm, I guess, and that was my path the rest of the way, just chucking the football around.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah, talking about Chad Garrow who was the football coach there, at Brandon, when you were there. Of course, 6'5" in height certainly helps at quarterback. When did you get that growing spurt, to play football?

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. Yeah, right between my eighth grade and freshman season, I think, was the most of it. Just running around like a baby giraffe for a while there, till I grew into my own body. Took a little while to adjust to that, but-

Craig Mattick:
You're saying you couldn't chew gum and walk at the same time, for a short period of time?

Austin Sumner:
Hardly, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
Well, what do you remember about that very first start as quarterback for Brandon Valley?

Austin Sumner:
I came in in the second quarter, I think, of one of my varsity games, and I remember handing the ball to Michael Bellmore. He took it for a touchdown. That took the pressure off of me, a little bit. I remember that one. And then, I think my first start was actually just at O'Gorman. One of the first ways was an out route to the sideline. I was so juiced up, I think I put it in the Fuddruckers parking lot. I remember it being nerve-racking. And then after a few throws, the game slowed down a little bit, and I was able to do some things, but, yeah, definitely nervous.

Craig Mattick:
You probably don't remember that play that I was describing, at the beginning of our interview, where Mike and I were watching you, and you just... And just with little effort, you just flicked that ball down field. Just-

Austin Sumner:
I don't remember that, but that was prior to a couple of shoulder surgeries, so it was a little easier to flick it, back then.

Craig Mattick:
I think when you were a freshman on that varsity football team, of course you had Dale Moss. He was, of course, the wide receiver. You had Nate Mahone as a great running back, as a senior. What was it like as a freshman on that Brandon Valley football team, with Moss and Mahone and some of those really other good players?

Austin Sumner:
It was fun. I got to play some scout team quarterback practice, which was a lot of fun to chuck it around, try to make our defense work a little bit. But just being surrounded by those good athletes, you mentioned Dale and Nate. Those were guys that I looked up to, a ton. And Elliot Bartscher was another one. They took me under their wing and showed me, this is how you work, this is how you practice. They really had my back, as far as when it came to development and getting the opportunity. That was a fun class to be around. They showed me what Brandon football was all about.

Craig Mattick:
When it was time for Austin Sumner to be the starting quarterback, how much did the offense change from the year before, knowing that they had a guy that could really flick the football?

Austin Sumner:
My sophomore year, I think a ton changed. We might have put in a few more plays, over the year, to take some more shots. But really my junior year, going into that season. I remember Coach Bob Young, from USF, was around and helped us draw up some plays that we could consistently rely on, in the passing game. That's kind of when it really changed. We built off of a lot of those base passes into some more and more offense, as we got comfortable and efficient. I think that, between my sophomore and junior year, that's when we really started to air it out quite a bit. Then it got pretty fun.

Craig Mattick:
Well, I know it was a big change for Coach Garrow too because we all know that Coach Garrow liked to run the ball.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. Yeah. And we tried, I think, using our passing game as an extension of the run game. We know didn't really have a huge offensive lineman, at that time. I think, if I were an offensive lineman that season, I probably would have been the second or third biggest guy on the line. Yeah, using the pass game as an extension of the run game, I think really helped us out, in that regard.

Craig Mattick:
Well, 2006 through 2009, Brandon Valley had to go through the Sioux Falls schools in trying to get to the football championship. I think Aberdeen Central got in the way of Brandon Valley, back in 2009, to get to The Dome. But what were those years like at Brandon? Really good offense, but just couldn't get to The Dome.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah, I think what it came down to is we had a lot of guys playing both ways. So if we weren't able to put together drives on offense, our defense was having to play a lot of ball too. I think we built a good foundation for Brandon to build upon. I think I lost six games in my whole three years of playing varsity football. That winning tradition, I think, was reignited at Brandon, but they still had to take that next step. And a few years later, they ended up doing that, which was really cool to see, as an alum. But yeah, it was laying the foundation, building a pretty darn good house, but never got to put the ring on, which was kind of a bummer, but we had a lot of fun, a lot of great memories.

Craig Mattick:
I remember, that time, you mentioned player playing both ways, on offense and defense. Didn't you play some safety? Did you play some safety on defense, early on?

Austin Sumner:
No. No. Coach Christensen was trying to court me into the defensive line, at one point, and Garrow looked at him like he was crazy. But no, I was strictly playing offense. But geez, I think everybody else went both ways, so they worked a lot harder than I did. I can say that.

Craig Mattick:
Is there a specific game in the high school football playoffs that you still think about?

Austin Sumner:
Oh, yeah. It was 2009, against Lincoln. It was semi-finals. We were the number one team in the state, hadn't lost yet, and really, really bad weather. We turned the ball over, and Lincoln ended up getting us by seven points, or something like that, to go to State. They ended up, I think, beat Washington in the final. That one sticks out because that was a... I felt like, looking back, that was certainly our best chance, when I was around to bring home the title. Let one get away, and as a competitor, those are the ones that stick out the most. There was a lot of good games, a lot of fun wins, over those years, but that one sticks it, just hurts a little bit.

Craig Mattick:
14 school records, eight passing records, 7,600 yards passing, 88 touchdowns. Your senior year, you're the Gatorade Player of the Year. You were nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Did you play in that bowl? I don't remember. What happened?

Austin Sumner:
No, I didn't. I don't really know what that was all about, to be honest with you. I remember getting a packet delivered by a service member to the high school, and that was kind of it. I don't know. I don't know if it was just a little award, or what. But yeah, no, never played in the game, like that.

Craig Mattick:
Well, by that time, you were already being recruited by a ton of schools. What was that recruiting process like? When did those letters first start coming for you?

Austin Sumner:
I'd say, yeah, throughout my junior year is when I started getting all those letters in the mail. That was really exciting. But then, I followed my junior season up with a shoulder surgery, so all those recruiting visits that I went on, they didn't really like seeing a quarterback with his throwing arm in a sling. It was pretty stressful, to be honest with you.

Ended up just coming down with two offers, really, and that was South Dakota State. They offered me. Gosh, it must have been pretty soon after my shoulder surgery, I think, or right before, and then Augustana, when Coach Salem was around. But yeah, it was fun, it was stressful, and I was glad to... After I had committed, it felt like a huge weight off my shoulder. I was really excited to be staying home and going up to South Dakota State with a few of my other buddies-

Craig Mattick:
Well, you...

Austin Sumner:
... that were there and heading there.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah, you registered it as a freshman. How tough was that, after playing all these years of playing football every year? You were on the scout team. How hard was that?

Austin Sumner:
Yo, it was a ton of fun. Our class, you register a year. You're pretty much living in the weight room, and then running the scout team. The scout team quarterback's really not a bad job. You don't really get hit. You're trying to fit balls. You're playing against the first defense. It's really competition, learn how to play at the college level. I had a ton of fun with it.

Jimmy Rogers was actually kind of running the scout offense, at the time. He had just come back from doing a graduate assistant job, down in Florida, so really got to build a nice relationship with Coach Rogers and fling the ball around, throw our defense some picks and make them look bad every now and then. And I still got to travel with the team, so that was pretty fun, in dress, so it felt like I was a part of the game day experience, but I had ton of fun playing scout teams, to be honest with you. I can't say the same for my teammates. They were getting their butts kicked, but I had the black jersey on, so they couldn't touch me.

Craig Mattick:
When we go to 2011, you're a red shirt freshman, and you get a chance to start as quarterback for the Jacks. I think that was the... What? The eighth game of the... No, it was early on in the season.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah, it was like the first game of conference play, so it would have been the fourth, but-

Craig Mattick:
Would have been Indiana State, in fact. I think they were rated that year, Indiana State.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah, that was fun off-season. We had a good quarterback at the time, to come off a good year, Thomas O'Brien. I really wanted to lock up the number two job, for sure. I was able to win that job in fall camp, and then, yeah, prepared like I was going to be the starter, and got an opportunity. I think it was Illinois State.

Craig Mattick:
Yes, it was Illinois State.

Austin Sumner:
Oh, yeah.

Craig Mattick:
Yes. You lost that game.

Austin Sumner:
Lost that game. Tell you what. The first half of that game felt like when I first start against O'Gorman. It looked like there was 25 defenders on the field. The game was flying fast. But in the second half, we settled down and made some plays, had a chance to win at the end. Came up short, but I think, myself and the rest of the guys felt confident that we had a bright season ahead of us. Record didn't look great at the end of the year, but there was some good momentum going into that sophomore season.

Craig Mattick:
Well, you know what? Five and six that first year, but the next three years, the Jacks would go nine and four or nine and five. And you qualified for the Division 1 playoffs every year, after that. What changed about SDSU football, from that red shirt freshman year through your senior year?

Austin Sumner:
I think it was just a hungry group. Having a guy like Zenner, too, in the back field certainly helped a ton, and some talented guys in the edge, and a defense that flew around and made it tough on people. It was very similar, I feel like, to my Brandon experience. We really worked our tails off and built a winning culture and a good foundation that's led to really good things after the fact. I can't really put a finger on what changed. It was just a bunch of guys that were hungry to win some football games and do some special things for their team and their university.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah, your sophomore season, you make the Division 1 playoffs, something that the Jacks had not done in a while. And you hosted Eastern Illinois that first playoff game. You routed them. You must have felt really good, that game.

Austin Sumner:
I did. I handed the ball off about 30 times. I think Zenner went for damn near 300. He's still the record up there. That was a fun one. They had come in with a high-powered offense. Jimmy Garoppolo was the quarterback. And our defense was really excited about getting after him, and they did. And then we just pounded it down their throat. That was a really fun game. Yeah, we enjoyed that one.

Craig Mattick:
So you met Jimmy Garoppolo after the game?

Austin Sumner:
I think so. I can't remember.

Craig Mattick: Who would have known, though?

Austin Sumner:
I'm sure he was excited to get out of there.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah. Who would have known what he's doing today, in the NFL?

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
Unfortunately, though, you had to go up to Fargo, and you lost to North Dakota State, to end the season, which-

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
... happened a couple of times in your career.

Austin Sumner:
It did. I thought we had them, my senior year, there against Carson, but Carson did Carson things and stole it from us late. But yeah, I mean, what a good squad they've had over the years, since, man, it's... They were a tough opponent and a tough rival, but it's really fun to see the Jacks bring home three markers in a row, recently. That's a lot of fun.

Craig Mattick:
I looked back at some of the guys that were on your team, playing for the Jacks with, you mentioned Zach Zenner. You got Brady Mengarelli and Jake Wieneke, Dallas Goedert. I mean, you threw a bunch to Jason Schneider, that one year.

Austin Sumner:
Yep. Yep.

Craig Mattick:
Just think what it would be like being back together again.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. Well, luckily now that I'm back in the area, I get to run into some of those guys. It's good to see those faces, man. Those barns that we built over those four or five years, or just a couple with some of them, some of the older guys. It is truly special. You spend, gee, it seems like almost every day, all year round, working out with those guys, in the film room, at practice. It's a bond that is really, really special. You get to know people on a different level when you spend that kind of time and go through the kind of things we went through together. It's a lot of fun to catch up with those guys now.

Craig Mattick:
Your junior year at SDSU, who was this tight end for the Jacks? He only caught six passes for 36 yards, scored one touchdown. His name was, what? Vince Benedetto. He would eventually be the offensive quality control coach, I think, your senior year. Of course, now, Vince is the Sioux Falls Jefferson head coach and you're the quarterbacks coach for Jefferson.

Austin Sumner:
Yep.

Craig Mattick:
How come Vince only got six catches that year?

Austin Sumner:
Well, he caught my first touchdown pass I ever threw in college out there, at Illinois State, but I think that's probably what he's most proud of, of the... No, I'm just kidding.

Well, yeah, now, Vinnie, we were college roommates too, just a really good buddy of mine. Was in my wedding. I was in his. We just... like a brother to me. It's fun now to be able to coach and watch film and do all that stuff together, for Jefferson.

Craig Mattick:
Eric Eidsness was your offensive coordinator at SDSU. What were those meetings like with Eric and talking offense all those years?

Austin Sumner:
They were fun. He's such a great offensive mind, from the run game to the passing game, and bringing those two things together. A lot of the stuff I learned from him is what I'm trying to pass down to all the guys. He was real stoic. He never really got after me, too much, but any time I got on the headset, was super calm, talking through what I was seeing, what he was seeing. I try to emulate that a little bit with my quarterbacks, so it's a big influence on me, certainly, as a Xs and Os football player.

Craig Mattick:
Austin, you're having great success at SDSU, your freshmen, your sophomore, your junior year. Then it's your senior season, game one. You're starting, I think, what? 35th straight game, and you get hurt. What happened that first game against, I think it was Mizzou?

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. We got off a really fast start, actually. We had Boesch, a freshman center, first game he's ever played. First play of the game, he snaps the ball about 75 mile an hour back to me. It bounces off my hands. Leonard catches it next to his helmet and takes it 80 yards for a touchdown. That was nice.

But shortly thereafter, they had a couple of good, at the end, Shane Ray and Markus Golden, I think is his name, Shane Ray played... both of them played in the NFL for a little while there. But Shane had flushed me out of the pocket. I got out, planted my foot and it just crumbled underneath me. Broke three bones in my foot, and that was a crappy way to start your senior year.

Craig Mattick:
Was that the biggest crowd you had ever had played in front of? I think they had 60,000 there, at Mizzou, that day.

Austin Sumner:
No, I think we played Nebraska the year before-

Craig Mattick:
That's right, 90,000.

Austin Sumner:
... in front of the 90,000 there.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah.

Austin Sumner:
That was pretty cool.

Craig Mattick:
That was 2013, September 21st.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
With the Huskers. So Zach Lujan, then, is the quarterback. He was having success as the starter. The Jacks are in the hunt for the playoffs, for the third year in a row, but here you are, you start week nine versus North Dakota State. How tough a decision did Coach Stiegelmeier have on, once you were healthy, were they going to start Lujan, or were they going to start you?

Austin Sumner:
Yeah, I think it was tough. Like you said, Zach was doing a lot of good stuff for us, and we were winning ballgames, winning enough to still be in the hunt. We knew we had a tough test there, in Fargo, that season there, but they were still on their roll.

I had, just I remember getting X-rays at Mizzou. Dr. Kurtenbach telling me my foot was broken. I was like, "All right, which game? Is it week eight, or nine week away?" That's a long circling. Is it safe to get by, those... It was tough, though. I wasn't moving very well. I had to wear this steel plate in my shoe, just so I could move without doing any further damage, I guess.

But yeah, it was tough for both of us because I really wanted to play. I'm sure Zach did to, and he was doing enough things to certainly be for that job that day. But Coach, he pulled aside and told me I was going the night before, and Zach was super supportive, just like I was of him when I was out. Zach and I are still really good buddies. He handled it maturely-

Craig Mattick:
Sure.

Austin Sumner:
... at that time. And it's no surprise. He's the OC at SDSU now because of that kind of character.

Craig Mattick:
You lost to the Bison on that day, 37-17.

Austin Sumner:
Yep.

Craig Mattick:
You win the next two games against Western Illinois and USD, and you qualify for the playoffs. And you go to Montana State, and what? 87 points were scored in that game. You win.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
What do you remember about that game?

Austin Sumner:
I remember it being really, really cold, and our sideline heater magically going out at halftime, but we were up a couple of scores. No, it...

Craig Mattick:
47-40 was the win.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. It was a shoot out, man. I remember Zach Zenner being really special that day, at defense, playing really hard. I remember their offense putting up some points, too. It was a good one, for sure, one that certainly sticks out.

Craig Mattick:
You're the second week of the playoffs, then you go back to Fargo, again-

Austin Sumner:
Yep. Yep.

Craig Mattick:
... and take on North Dakota State. The final was 27-24. They scored late, to win. What did you remember about that game?

Austin Sumner:
I remember the whole team feeling like this was our time. We felt like we were playing our best ball. They were playing great ball, but we felt like that was the day that things were going to change. I remember with about, oh, right around four minutes left, hitting Jake on a little RPO slant for a touchdown.

I thought that was the one. That was going to do it, but Carson put together a great drive and they had a really nice pass on a little slot fade to one of their slot receivers and to go up, what, it was three, or... yeah, three points with about 40 seconds left. We didn't really have a great return on the kickoff to follow that and had to go 80-some yards with 30-some seconds. That was going to be tough up there. So yeah, didn't go our way, but we gave them all we had. That's for sure.

Craig Mattick:
After the North Dakota State playoff loss your senior season, after almost 9,500 passing yards, what were you thinking while you were walking out of Fargo Dome that day?

Austin Sumner:
Yeah, it was tough to swallow, the fact that it was over. I was so beat up. My foot was still pretty jacked up. I had separated my shoulder against Western Illinois, a few weeks before that, pretty bad. That I was hurting physically and emotionally, at the time, but Zach and I had sat in the... We were the last two in the locker room, peers, and some laughing going on.

But yeah, it was tough, but it was almost a weight lifted off my shoulders at the same time. There was lot of pressure, lot of stress, a lot of hard work that went into all of that. It was bittersweet to be over, but I couldn't have asked for a better career, I don't think, getting to play that much football with so many great teammates and coaches. That was really special, and especially in the Brookings community. Man, they back their Jacks, incredibly. It was a heck of an experience. I'm so grateful and thankful to have gone through that.

Craig Mattick:
You were going for an education degree, I believe, at SDSU. But when you leave and you graduate, you're not a teacher. You're in a completely different profession. What was it about moving out to Colorado? And what did you do?

Austin Sumner:
Well, yeah. I was a sports management major. When I decided on that major, I thought I was going to be coaching college football. That was the route I had set for myself. But yeah, after all those years playing, was kind of ready to step away from the game.

Craig Mattick:
Sure.

Austin Sumner:
Josh Ranek had reached out and had an opportunity in the Black Hills to go sell some medical device. But my girlfriend, wife now, at the time, wanted to move out to Colorado, and I was like, "Sure. That sounds nice." I don't think I'd been to Colorado, up until that point. I was able to land a medical device sales job out there and spent about seven years out there doing that. And just moved back here to east side of Sioux Falls in February.

Craig Mattick:
Well, you're now working as the quarterbacks coach at Sioux Falls Jefferson High School. Of course, your former SDSU teammate, Vince Benedetto, is the head coach. When did Coach Benedetto get ahold of you about being the quarterbacks coach? And was it a hard sale for you?

Austin Sumner:
He's been joking around about it since he had found out I was moving home. And then about a month into me being... month or two into being home, he's like, "Hey. Why don't you come be my quarterbacks coach?" I'm like, "Well, you're going to have to sell my wife on that one." So he came over, sat down, and laid it all out there, and promised not to take too much time from me and the family. Got the wife's approval, and that was it. We were rocking and rolling this summer and having a lot of fun this fall.

Craig Mattick:
What else are you doing besides being a quarterbacks coach?

Austin Sumner:
Trying to be a good husband and trying to wrangle my almost two-year-old son, Beau.

Craig Mattick:
Uh-oh.

Austin Sumner:
He's a-

Craig Mattick:
Uh-oh.

Austin Sumner:
He's a wild man, so yeah.

Craig Mattick:
Is he 6'5" already? Is he got a good right arm?

Austin Sumner:
He's got a good arm. I'm trying to get him into golf, but he's certainly attracted to the football. So yeah, we spend most of our afternoons running around the yard and yelling touchdown and chasing a football around. Life is good.

Craig Mattick:
You have one of the top quarterbacks in class triple-A, Taylen Ashley as your quarterback. You're the quarterbacks coach. What's it been like working with him this season?

Austin Sumner:
It's been awesome. It's been a lot of fun. Taylen's just a great kid, to start, and then a really good football player, which makes my job pretty easy. He's played a lot of football, which is evident. Right away, we start talking about what we're going to do with our guys to get them in the best spots and throwing passing concepts at them, and just he understands things really quickly.

I can take him through a progression once, and it sticks. He doesn't make a ton of mistakes, which is really fun, as a quarterbacks coach, and just really a talented man. He throws better on the run than I ever did, very accurate, just a really good football player.

Craig Mattick:
Just this year, Pierre's Lincoln Kienholz passed your high school passing yards mark. What a great quarterback. He's committed to go play at Washington State. What do you like about Lincoln Kienholz? I mean, you've seen him play as a quarterback. What makes him special?

Austin Sumner:
There's a lot to like about him. I watched some of his film from last year, when we were preparing for Harrisburg. Wow. Yeah. I mean, he's stands out. His downfield accuracy is incredible. Got a big arm, obviously, and then he can run the rock, too. He can kind of do everything he wants in quarterback, and he seems like just a competitor, man.

So I don't know well, at all, but just watching him on tape is pretty fun to see. Hopefully, a guy like that can draw more eyes to the football in this area because I think having played here, whatever, 10 years ago, or whatever it's been... It might be longer than that now. Dang.

Craig Mattick:
It's 12.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
It's 12.

Austin Sumner:
Well, just to seeing where the game has come to, like we're seeing defenses that I saw in college now, at the high school level. There's a lot of good football around here. So if a guy like that can bring some more eyes to this area, that's pretty cool.

Craig Mattick:
Yeah, it's been 12 years since out of high school, Austin.

Austin Sumner:
Gosh, dang.

Craig Mattick:
But when you see the quarterbacks today, the Kienholzs, the Ashleys, what do you see in these quarterbacks today compared to when you played?

Austin Sumner:
They're so polished and just really good athletes. It's fun to see guys like Taylen and Lincoln, too. They're playing baseball, or Lincoln's playing baseball, really good basketball players. So it's still like you got a great athlete on the football field at the quarterbacker's position, but they're extremely polished yet, too, at the quarterback position.

So it's pretty impressive to see the way it's... Well, I can speak for Taylen. He's got AAU basketball all summer, and then football stuff all summer. So the way these guys can balance their time and get better at everything is really impressive.

Craig Mattick:
Austin, I got two more.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah.

Craig Mattick:
We cannot do this interview without talking about the winningest coach in Brandon Valley football history. He was your coach for these 88 touchdown passes and the 7,600 yards passing, at Brandon Valley. But we lost Chad Garrow to brain cancer this year. When you first found out that Coach was sick, how much did it hit you?

Austin Sumner:
It was like a ton of bricks to see, or hear that he's got cancer is just like, it's almost surreal. You don't think that's going to happen to somebody like that, that you love, that's so strong and is a foundation in the community, within the football program. It didn't seem real at first, for sure. It hit like a ton of bricks.

Craig Mattick:
He had a motto. Remember what that motto was?

Austin Sumner:
"Rain, wind, or snow, we'll still throw."

Craig Mattick:
That's right.

Austin Sumner:
Is that what?

Craig Mattick:
Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that was hard for Chad because we knew that he wanted to run the ball. But when his motto was "Rain, wind, or snow, we'll still throw," that had to make you feel pretty good.

Austin Sumner:
Yeah. It was kind of funny, we chuckled about it, at first, but when I thought about it later on, it was like, man, that guy has got a ton of confidence in me to go out there and perform. That certainly made me feel good. Telling people, "This is what we're going to do. Have at it," was pretty funny and bold. So yeah, he was really fun to be around.

Craig Mattick:
What is still the biggest impact he had on you?

Austin Sumner:
He just a really good example of a man, was always a family guy. I remember AJ running around, his little one. And the girls were always around, and he always made time for them. Just a really, really good guy, and everybody liked him.

The impact that that dude's had is just, when you really start to think about it, is incredible. All the track athletes he's had, the football guys, the softball girls. He's a big softball coach, and then being a teacher. The amount of people that he's had an impact on is just incredible. You didn't meet anybody that didn't like Coach Garrow. And you start talking about the burger guy, too.

I mean, the guy wore so many different hats and was all in, in everything that he did. Maybe that's it. Whatever he was interested in, he was in 100%. Yeah, I'd say that's pretty impactful, to me.

Craig Mattick:
What is next for Austin Sumner? You talked about you wanted to be a coach when you were graduating from SDSU. It's been 12 years. Is that coming back to roost?

Austin Sumner:
Well, I'm having a really, really good time being a volunteer coach for Jefferson. We've got a really, really good staff and a lot of really cool kids that are really fun to be around, so I'm enjoying the heck out of that. We'll see where this thing goes, but having a ton of fun.

Craig Mattick:
If you like what you're hearing, please give us a five-star review wherever you get your podcast. Programs such as this are only possible through the continued support of our listeners like you. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I'm Craig Mattick. Join us again on the next episode of In Play.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.