By now most of America has heard about the wild finish to a Utah high school football game earlier this week involving a quarterback who forgot to complete the final play with 3.7 seconds left and lost the ball after time expired. That led to an opposing player picking up the ball and running it in for a winning touchdown.
Jason Money, #10 in red jersey, gives chase. (Image source: YouTube)
Indeed, Jason Money's heartbreaking error, which cost Spanish Fork High School a playoff birth, has run on countless computer screens since Tuesday.
But as you might expect his head coach doesn't appreciate the vast majority of what he's read or heard.
"Much of what has been said or commented about Jason's mistake has been downright vitriolic," Kirk Chambers shared with TheBlaze on Thursday.
Chambers said that final play was designed to run out the clock so that Maple Mountain couldn't kick a game-tying field goal — and unfortunately Money had a "brief lapse." No question the quarterback knew immediately what it all meant, as he knelt dejected after the game.
In the end, Chambers — like good head coaches do, especially at the high school level — placed the game's outcome upon his own shoulders.
"If blame for losing that game must be placed on one person, I am responsible for what happened," he told TheBlaze. "As his head coach, I put Jason in that situation without preparing him for it. Since that game I have been through hundreds of difference scenarios in my mind on how I should have done better as a coach. I have no excuse. I have been in the game for over 20 years...I failed, not Jason."
But Chambers has something else to share about his quarterback — something with far greater and longer-lasting implications than the final score of a high school football game.
In short, Chambers told TheBlaze, "Jason is the kind of young man I would want my children to emulate."
If he only meant on the gridiron, such an accolade is hard to argue with.
Money, he said, is "responsible for over 10,000 total yards offense during his three years as quarterback at Spanish Fork High School. We would not have been in that game if it were not for Jason. He has taken our team to great heights, to the state championship game in 2012."
But it goes deeper than that.
The night after his team's heartbreaking loss — and given his part in it, one that likely would send most 17-year-olds into pseudo-permanent hiding — Money was up to something else.
"I went to check on him," Chambers told TheBlaze, "and he was coming home from a service project during which he was raking up his neighbor's leaves."
His coach added that Money is "always the first one to volunteer to go to the elementary schools and read to younger students. He's the teammate who reaches out to younger, less experienced players to make them feel welcome on our team."
Want more? "Jason excels in the classroom as well," Chambers added. "He's maintained a straight A GPA throughout high school."
As we've seen, a game-ending error like Money's — even at the high school level — is often placed under an immense social media microscope, which only compounds the pain. But that's not the story at Spanish Fork, which Chambers said is "is wrapping its arms around Jason. Many have shown Jason great acts of kindness."
Money's been keenly aware of the outpouring of support flowing around him:
I'm overwhelmed by the love and support from my teammates, school, and community. I can't tell you how much it means to me! I love you all!— Jason Money (@moneybadger5) October 30, 2014
And why not? After all, Chambers said, "he has been a hero in our community."