The Harding Bisons football team was able to add more awards to a growing collection after their historic 2016 season.
Former head coach Ronnie Huckeba was awarded the Hansen Division II Coach of the Year. Six Bisons players also received All-America honors. Senior fullback Michael Latu received first-team honors, senior defensive end Tre’von Biglow and junior offensive tackle Gavin De Los Santos received second-team honors, and senior return specialist Corey Bassett received third-team honors. Senior linebacker Daylan Skidmore and junior safety Daylon Markham were both honorable mentions.
The Harding football team had a historic season, going undefeated during the regular season and winning the first outright conference championship. The history continued into the NCAA Division II playoffs when they defeated the No. 4 ranked University of Sioux Falls (USF) by kicking a game-winning field goal in overtime and advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. They would go on to lose to the No. 1 overall ranked Northwest Missouri State (NWMSU), who then went on to win the national championship.
“It’s still kind of hard to take in what we were able to accomplish this season,” Skidmore said. “We were able to go 13-1, and we wish we could’ve made it further, but we know how hard we worked to get to this point. The result was great, but I think the process was the best part of it. I think how hard we pushed and how hard we worked together is what made the season so great.”
Huckeba, along with several players, would go on to win multiple awards after the season ended, including the coach of the year honor, awarded to him last week.
“There wasn’t a more deserving coach to win that award,” Biglow said. “With the team we had, we knew we were very talented. But coach Huck never let up on us since day one. He kept us focused, and he let us know that we had something special. He deserved that award for sure.”
Huckeba spent 10 seasons as the head coach of the Bisons, going 47-11 in his final five seasons. He said that this past season would not have been possible without his players and his coaching staff.
“It’s a reflection on the coaches I got to work with, and how outstanding they were,” Huckeba said. “And we had outstanding players. We had 24 seniors, many of whom were really pivotal on the team. So that award I received is a reflection on how well our coaches worked and how well our players played. I am honored to have been the coach of this football team.”
Skidmore and Biglow also praised their teammates and said that many of them were well deserving of the All-American awards as well.
“It has always been a dream of mine to get All-American, and I used to think that it was maybe out of reach,” Skidmore said. “Five other guys were honored as well. I am really proud of them, and there were definitely other guys on the team that deserved the recognition as well. I’m just really proud of all of my teammates.”
This past season will be one that the Harding football team will remember as they transition into a new season with new players, all under the helm of new head coach Paul Simmons.
“If I could reflect on anything from this past season and seasons before, it is that I have been unbelievably blessed to be a part of Harding football,” Huckeba said. “I really believe that we made a tremendous effort to stay true to our purpose, which was to honor God. We weren’t always perfect, but we did our very best.”