MONUMENT - Nate Conner hoped his high school football career would end with a playoff run at a state championship.
And while that scenario didn’t play out, the Lewis-Palmer senior quarterback enjoyed one of the best seasons of any player in area history.
“The way we bounced back with four wins to end the season was definitely nice,” said Conner, who would like to continue his career at the college level. “We did everything we could to put ourselves in a better position to make the playoffs. It just didn’t work out.”
Lewis-Palmer finished with a 6-4 record, second-place in the Class 3A Southern League behind Discovery Canyon.
Conner’s impressive season included passing for a school-record 1,869 yards on 112 of 194 completions.
He accounted for 33 touchdowns - 16 passing, 16 rushing, and one on an interception return. He was also the team’s starting free safety.
For his efforts, Conner has been selected as the Tribune’s Football player of the year.
“Going into this season we knew we had a good chance with Nate’s arm and ands his accuracy as a passer,” Lewis-Palmer coach Tony Ramunno said. “It was satisfying t see him turn out to be one of our better running backs.”
Conner welcomed his role as a team leader.
“We ran a tiring offense,” said Conner, who was second on the team in rushing with 525 yards. “It was hard keeping our pace sometimes.
But when we kept our pace up other teams couldn’t keep with it. That’s when a lot of big plays happened.
“I enjoyed throwing a little bit more. We had good receivers who could always make big plays.”
Conner made his share of big plays in several games. The night that stands out most in his mind was Oct. 12 when he accounted for all six Lewis-Palmer touchdowns in a 40-20 victory over Coronado.
Conner ran for four scores on gallops of 16, 3, 13 and 1 yards. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Sean Grundman of 57 and 9 yards.
In all, Conner completed 10 of 16 passes for 208 yards, and rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries.
Conner had an extra incentive to perform at a high level after making a friendly wager with Coronado linebacker and friend Josh Knotek.
“We had a little bet on the side to make it more fun,” Conner said. “I’ve known Josh for a long time and we’re both pretty competitive.”
Conner had an equally impressive game two weeks later against Mitchell when he ran for three touchdowns, passed for one, and returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown.
Conner - literally - almost never left the field. Five games into the season as he took over the kickoff duties and even punted once.
“I went out there as a joke and coach just decided to keep me in there,” Conner said.
Conner is also the starting center fielder for the school’s baseball team, where he bats second or third in the order. A two-year starter, he is not against the idea of continuing a career in baseball.
“It’s more relaxed,” he said. “Not so up-tempo and crazy like football.”