A state-record ‘Pryor’ity
Woodbine QB sets state-record in career passing yardage, ties state career TD mark
By Matt Gengler, Sports Editor
His off-season work ethic, as well as his ‘eye of the tiger’ determination is what helped lead Wyatt Pryor to where he is today. Like any senior athlete heading into his final high school season, Pryor had visions of taking his team to new heights this fall. In 2018, Woodbine’s football team won their final four games of the year to complete their first winning season (5-4) since 2012. With a majority of the starters returning this fall, the Tigers had dreams of taking their shot at the post-season.
Pryor has been the catalyst for the Tigers’ football program for the past six years. Since sixth grade, he would take a glance at the school records, hoping someday to see his name affiliated alongside the single season and career records in Tiger football history. Entering his final high school season, the senior already had 5,505 career passing yards, and needed another 2,000 yards to become the state’s all-time leader in career passing yards in eight-man football.
“Every morning, from heading into the weight room, or going to throw routes with the guys, it was a routine,” stated Pryor, a four-year starter for the Tigers. “I would look at the notes on my phone, envisioning how many more yards and touchdowns it would take. It wasn’t my number one focus, but it was my motivation heading into this final season.”
In his final high school game against Boyer Valley on Oct. 25, Pryor became the state’s new eight-man career passing leader. He finished that night with 286 passing yards, while adding five touchdown passes. His new state-leading career totals include 7,709 yards, as well as tying the state record for career passing touchdowns at 108.
The Tiger senior believes his biggest strength is his football intelligence, as he sees the entire field and looks for the best opportunity for him and his teammates to make plays. He’s been playing football for as long as he can remember, and has studied a lot of film.
Woodbine had four sets of brothers on the 2019 team, including Kael and Sloan Smith; Jack, Bernie and Max Nelson; Hudson and Myles Barnum; and Wyatt and Layne Pryor.
“Our team has a lot of brothers and relatives on it, so it was like a family,” Wyatt added. “Sure, we had some disagreements, but when it came down to it, there is nobody I’d rather play with or have at my side.”
Wyatt’s brother, Layne, has been one of his top-targets the last three seasons on the football field. They have been tossing the pigskin around their family home for as far back as they can remember. Layne is among the top-10 in the state in career receiving yards and career touchdowns at the eight-man level.
“I’ve been throwing Layne for as long as I can remember, and we were both really excited when we were on the same high school team,” added Wyatt. “It has been an amazing run. I’ve seen my dad, Adam, on the sidelines as long as I could remember. Having him at practice, in the pressbox, or on the sideline has been an advantage for me. He’s pushed me past my limits, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
When Wyatt and his senior teammates, Hudson Barnum, Jack Nelson, and Brock Leaders, walked into their first high school practice as freshmen in 2016, they made up the Tiger squad that only had 10 players out that fall.
“We’ve been great friends since we first started walkng the hallwys,” added Wyatt. “We pushed each other to get better every day, having fun and joking in practice or the weight room. We were always trying to outlift each other in the weight room.”
The four Tiger seniors have helped guide the Tigers back to respectability, as they have combined for 14 wins the past four seasons.
“The expectations weren’t that high when we first arrived on the high school scene, but we’ve changed that mentality,” said Wyatt. “It’s been fun to see the expectations rise every year, as well as the community support we have received. It has been amazing.”
Wyatt has been attending Tigers home football games at the Henry Boone Complex for the past 10 years.
“I always looked forward to watching the Tigers on a Friday night,” added Wyatt. “We may not have had the best teams, but they competed. I really looked up to Kevin Lee and Mikey Barrett, not just because of what they did on the field, but how intense they were in the weight room.”
The 2019 Season
The Tigers had a quiet confidence heading into the 2019 campaign, as they won the final four games in 2018 and had a majority of the starting core on offense and defense back. The Tigers also won the Wayne State College team camp during summer workouts. But it was a daunting schedule after a dominating 2-0 start. The district-eight opponents featured three top-10 teams, including #1 Audubon, #4 Coon Rapids-Bayard, and #8 Cumberland-Anita-Massena, as well as talented league contenders Glidden-Ralston, Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton and Boyer Valley.
“We had the mindset entering the season we were going to finish out our year at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls,” Wyatt said. “I know we proved when we were healthy we could play with anyone. We didn’t convert in key spots, and those small spots determined several outcomes of our season.”
Wyatt Pryor played in seven full games this season, and finished with 2,654 yards in his senior campaign. He led the Tigers on two scoring drives to start the game against C-A-M, before he dislocated his thumb on the third series.
“I looked at my thumb, and immediately thought I wouldn’t be able to throw another pass in high school,” Wyatt added. “I was overcome with emotion, and thought I was done. It was devastating hearing the doctors tell me I wouldn’t be able to throw a football ever again.”
The Tigers’ coaching staff was able to get a protective cast for the senior, but he had to sit out the Exira/EHK game. Wyatt said he felt he let his teammates down, as it was the first and only game he missed during high school. He coached from the sideline, giving sophomore quarterback Cory Bantam some confidence, but the sideline view was difficult for Wyatt.
Record-setting home finale – One to Remember
The Tigers played their final two games in Woodbine this season, and Wyatt said there wasn’t a better way to finish it. The doctors gave Pryor permission to play, and the Woodbine coaching staff gave Wyatt full control of whether he could handle any offensive snaps. The Thursday before the week eight match-up with West Harrison, he took a few snaps with his new brace to see how much control he had.
“After hitting a few short out routes, I took a deep shot and hit Brock (Leaders) from about 40-yards out, hitting him perfectly in stride,” Wyatt stated. “The entire team went wild and it was an amazing feeling. I wasn’t able to throw up to my standards in that game, but it was so fun to be back on the field when I didn’t think I would be a Tiger quarterback again.”
Wyatt surpassed the state-record in his final game at Henry Boone Field a week later, and his final state-record tying touchdown pass went to his brother, Layne, in their week nine battle with Boyer Valley.
“I didn’t have any idea I’d set, tied, or broken any state records,” stated the Tigers’ senior signal caller. “Coach (Dustin) Crook and the entire staff embraced me as I came back to our sideline, I was speechless as I waved toward the home crowd and can’t even describe the emotion. All the work I put in for that one moment, and the fact that the record-setting pass went to my brother and best friend, Layne, who has been with me from the beginning, just made that moment that much bigger. It was unbelieveable.”
Wyatt is now considering options to take his game to the next level. He knows the game will be different, going from an 8-man game to a faster-paced, higher-level in college, no matter what level he decides to play.
“I spend a lot of time watching film and studying defenses,” added Wyatt. “But I know when I get to college, it will be a different game, for sure.”
Wyatt stayed humble when summarizing his prep career.
“The state-record was not a large focus for me entering this season, as all I wanted to do was help the team win,” Wyatt stated. “After the injury and playoff chances diminished, my only motivation was to get back onto the field and help the Tigers win.”
Wyatt concluded, “In the end, the state-record is a huge accomplishment, but it wasn’t the best thing that happened to me this season. Like any other sport, you will forget the stats and records, but you will always cherish the memories with your teammates and coaches. I have so many great memories from this season, and those are what I will take from my final season on the Tigers’ gridiron.”
Wyatt is the oldest son of Adam and Melanie Pryor. He is the oldest of four, along with Layne, and the Pryor triplets, Brody, Jack and Katy.
Woodbine’s Wyatt Pryor – By the Numbers
2019 State Football Records – 8-man football
Career Passing Yards
Old Record: Jake Danner (2013-2016), Ar-We-Va: 7,536 yards
New Record: Wyatt Pryor (2016-2019), Woodbine: 7,709 yards
Career Pass Completions
Current State Leaders: 1) Jake Danner (2013-2016), Ar-We-Va – 540; 2) Wyatt Pryor (2016-1019), Woodbine – 521.
Career Passing Touchdowns
Current State Leaders: 1) Wyatt Pryor (2016-2019), Woodbine; Michael Schwenk (2007-2010), Coon Rapids-Bayard -- 108 touchdown passes.
Pryor’s High School Football Career
Yards TD passes
2016: 1,419 yds 14
2017: 1,753 yds 25
2018: 1,883 yds 23
2019: 2,654 yds 46
Career: 7,709 yds 108
Woodbine Tigers – 2019 School Records
Wyatt Pryor, Woodbine Tigers, 2016-2019
Single Game: 33, vs. Audubon, 2019
Single Season (2019): 177.
Single Game: 52, vs. Boyer Valley, 2019
Single Season: 300
Single Game: 511, vs. Audubon, 2019
Single Season: 2,654 – 2019
Career: 7,709 – 2016-2019
Single Game: 8.
Single Season: 46 - 2019