Florence-Henry school district receives the surprise of a lifetime

FLORENCE, S.D. (KSFY) - The Florence-Henry Falcons just got their biggest touchdown yet, off the field, by grabbing the attention of a former NFL quarterback.

With one of the best plays their coach has ever come up with, the team is getting a whole new set of equipment and a surprise from Peyton Manning.

"When I first saw it, I thought it was a joke then like five minutes later everyone was still on to it," Cooper Gulbraa, a junior, said. "And I was like, 'oh this is actually real."

The former quarterback announced to the team, via YouTube, that they had won the Riddell Smarter Football grant.

"It was pretty cool to see Peyton Manning giving us this video because, Peyton Manning, I was named after him actually," Peyton Hoffer, a senior at the school, said.

Using the grant allowed the school to make the game a whole lot better and safer.

"I got an e-mail from Riddell saying that they have this grant available and then I had to fill out about four or five questions online with 250 words for each answer," Travis Schmidt, the head coach, said.

Responding to the e-mail turned out to be the best "route" the coach could've ever taken.

Out of more than 1,000 other football programs ranging from clubs all the way up to collegiate, only 18 were chosen, one being Florence-Henry.

"We had some pretty rough equipment," Hoffer said. "Some kids had pads that didn't fit."

The $10,000 grant allowed the school's program to be able to order new pads and helmets.

"It was like Christmas," Colin Spieker, a senior, said. "I was pumped. I saw the new pads, and I was like look at this one and look at this one. It was really cool."

But, the surprises kept coming, Riddell ending up sending another package to the school containing a helmet signed by Peyton Manning, himself.

"Not all the time do you get a two-time Superbowl winning quarterback to sign a helmet personalized to you guys," said Schmidt.

The Riddell program chooses teams that show smarter playing techniques, where coaches encourage athletes to use their shoulders to tackle instead of their heads.