Team values carry Harter to individual honor

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Southridge senior Jayce Harter hugged his mother, Jill, and sister Ashlie, 12, as he received the mental attitude award after Saturday’s Class 2A football state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Harter is the third Raider football player to win the honor after Jacob Kahle in 2006 and Brett Bueltel in 2002.


INDIANAPOLIS — As members of the Southridge team and staff were getting their Class 2A state champion medals after defeating Woodlan 15-14 on Saturday, the public address announcer began to talk about the recipient of the Blake Ress Mental Attitude Award.

When Jayce Harter quickly realized that the name being read over the public address system was his, he wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

“At the time, I was too happy about winning the game then to think about any other awards,” Harter said.

Seems fitting for a player who has made it known that individual statistics and awards take a backburner to trophies received by the entire team such as Saturday’s state championship trophy — the first in school history.

The mental attitude award is presented to a player who is nominated by both the school’s principal and coach and has demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability in football.

In terms of athletic ability, Harter met those marks by finishing his career at Southridge High School with 3,044 passing yards, 1,947 rushing yards, 21 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns — as well as showing up in the big plays such as the game-winning touchdown and 2-point conversion to Tucker Schank.

“To know what play you’re going to run is one thing, but to have those kids on that stage and Jayce just put it on the money, we got what we wanted,” Southridge coach Scott Buening said. “They wanted to be legendary and put their money where their mouth is and they did that today.”

As soon as Harter and the other Raider seniors picked “Be Legendary” as their team motto for the season, Jayce’s mother, Jill, knew what needed to be done next.

“We got the shirts printed almost right away,” Jill said with a laugh. “It was their motto from the very beginning of the season and they lived out their goal.”

When Jayce’s older brother, Bryce, played his last game as a Raider in 2014, he left with a message for his younger brother that Jayce’s father, Chad, remembers vividly well.

“After the season ended, I remember Bryce telling him, ‘I want you there (at the state finals). We didn’t make it, but I want you there,” Chad said. “I think that 2014 team, especially Bryce, were people (Jayce) really looked up too.”

Harter, who is also a member of the Southridge basketball and baseball teams, has demonstrated leadership skills as one of the Raider captains along with working with the Southridge youth football camps mentoring young football players along with acting as a mentor for the underclassmen on the high school team.

He also participates in several extracurricular activities including National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Natural Helpers and is the president of Southridge’s Spirit Club. Harter ranks fifth in his class and is an active member of the Huntingburg United Methodist Church youth group and Social Responsibility Community program. He also volunteers with the Dubois County 4-H Fair.

Along with the award, a $1,000 scholarship will also be presented to Southridge High School’s general scholarship fund.

“It’s really bittersweet for me to end it on a high note like this,” Harter said. “It means everything to me with how I’ve been raised with a school like this and to be able to play with my best friends. It’s really hard to describe a feeling like this.

“I’ve dreamed about coming here with my best friends but now that it actually happened is unreal.”

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