In spite of the 53-0 loss to Concordia Prep in the Vikings' final game of the 2020 season, it was a "win" for the team and Coach Hayes.
Miracle Victory at Concordia by Kevin O'Rourke
The Saint John’s Catholic Prep Vikings had an amazing victory on the football field on Saturday while playing at Concordia Prep in Towson, MD. The Vikings were playing a much more athletic and stronger Concordia team. The coaching staff knew going into the game it would be a Herculean task to win the game. Concordia jumped out to a 7-0 lead early thanks to a Vikings turnover on the first play from scrimmage. The score remained 7-0 through the first quarter and the Saint John’s coaching staff were hopeful their team might be able to pull out a victory despite the fact the team was overmatched. The second quarter saw more scoring from Concordia and the Vikings were down 20-0 at halftime, but still in the game, it wasn’t out of reach.
And then the miracle happened. As the coaches were making adjustments for the second half something began to happen, but none of the players could feel it. Concordia didn’t realize it, but the Vikings were being protected by a special angel.
St. John’s kicked off for the start of the second half, and Concordia’s kicking team ran the ball back for another touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, St. John’s failed to catch and cover the kick and Concordia recovered the ball deep in Vikings’ territory. Two plays later and Concordia lead 32-0.
But the Vikings were still being protected. As the game was getting away from them on the field, St. John’s hear head coach Daryl Hayes was having a major heart attack. He didn’t tell anyone or let on to his players, but his arm and his leg went numb. It wasn’t his first heart attack. He kept coaching.
Hayes keeps nitroglycerin tablets with him for just such an occasion, but he didn’t take one because in the throes of the game and panic of the moment he’d forgotten about the nitro in the small case in his pocket.
The Vikings continued to struggle on the field, but Hayes gave no indication of discomfort to his players or his staff. He continued to encourage and coach. He made adjustments to on-field personnel on the fly to give his team the best chance to get some positive momentum, as the score continued to rise for the opposing team.
Hayes coached the entire second half while suffering cardiac arrest. Once the game was over, Hayes called his team over and spoke to them about pride and finishing the game and how blessed they were to be among the only teams in the State of Maryland to be play the game that Hayes and his players loved so much on a beautiful sunny Saturday in November. Told his seniors, probably playing their last football game ever, how proud he was of them despite the outcome of the last game. He hugged is seniors and walked to be interviewed by a reporter from the Baltimore Sun, he called a trusted assistant coach over and told him that he wasn’t feeling well, and began walking to the stadium gate with his two boys, where he was met by his wife. She drove him to the hospital, dropped him off at the Emergency Room. Hayes walked into the hospital, as she went to park the car.
Back at the field, the team packed up their gear and the assistant coaches made sure the high school boys were safely on the buses, as seniors hugged and cried and thought about the four years of playing football for St. John’s and Coach Hayes, not knowing that he’d just walked into a local hospital suffering a major heart attack.
Doctors immediately put Hayes in ICU and found an artery that was 90% blocked. They put a stent in and keep him overnight.
Now, you may be saying where is the victory. St. John’s lost 53-0, and the head coach had a major heart attack. Here is the victory and Miracle at Concordia.
It was later determined that somehow a blood clot had shaken loose and created that blockage resulting in the heart attack. Had Hayes take the nitro when he first began to feel the cardiac arrest, it would have expanded his arteries and allowed the blood clot to pass, it could have gotten into the heart, and later into his brain causing an aneurysm or massive stroke, or death on the field in front of his players.
Coach Hayes is recovering. He’s tired. But his first text to his assistant coaches the following morning read, “The doctors questioned how I was walking… I told them I coached half a game in cardiac arrest. When we question why we are helping young men by pushing them to stay strong.”
The Concordia team can have their win. The St. John’s Vikings are overwhelmed with joy at the miraculous victory which God granted them on the football field on a sunny November Saturday.
The photo below was taken by Barbara Flaherty Fuller after the game. The man standing and praying in the middle is Coach Hayes with his son, Nate.