ROCK VALLEY, IOWA (KCAU) – In 2020, Tanner Te Slaa and Boyden-Hull basketball were atop the Class 2A throne, winning their first state title in 7 years.

“We just play well together and we work hard, and we just came out on top today,” then-junior Tanner Te Slaa said after the game.

A quarterback for the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley football team, later that fall, Te Slaa stepped away from football to focus his efforts on the court. But weeks before the first football game of 2021, the Nighthawks welcomed Tanner’s return to the gridiron.

“Shock but also excitement at the same time,” senior wide receiver/cornerback Caleb Kats said.

“Overjoyed just happy,” senior wide receiver/linebacker Landyn Van Kekerix said.

Tanner’s choice to come back for his senior year initially came as a surprise to the team, but rather than give him the cold shoulder, his teammates welcomed Te Slaa back with open arms.

“It felt better than I thought to be honest with you,” Te Slaa said. “I thought I’d be a little nervous but everyone was really good about it and we’re having a good time.”

“We understood what he was trying to do and we kinda understood that and we were just happy that when he came he could play again,” Van Kekerix said.

But after over a year on the court, Te Slaa had to retool some of his mechanics for football. But his coaches, along with teammate Caleb Kats, who was in line to start at quarterback for a second straight season, gave their help to get him back to form.

“Several times on the weekends I’d just have Caleb, he’d be willing to go out and throw with me and run some routes so that was huge for me to have someone like him on the team,” Te Slaa said.

“It all came down to what was gonna be better for the team, and whether that’s me playing quarterback or that’s me playing receiver, it all came down to really a team-first kind of aspect,” Kats said.

And Tanner hasn’t missed a beat since, throwing for over 1,100 yards while leading BHRV to a perfect 7-0 record. And as fate would have it, his first touchdown pass of the season was to the guy he replaced, Caleb Kats.

“It’s perfect, that’s what I’d call that, ‘perfect’,” BHRV head football coach Cory Brandt said. “The person that made this work as well as it did was Caleb.”

“To get that first one under the belt was huge and then especially throwing it to Caleb over there that was a special moment,” Te Slaa said.

Committing to South Dakota State for basketball in August, this could be Tanner’s last season in pads. And after a year away from the game, every snap has that much more meaning for the future Jackrabbit.

“It feels exactly the same as it was two years ago,” Te Slaa said. “I mean that’s exactly how I’d want it to be.”

BHRV football’s next game will be this Friday in against MOC-Floyd Valley. Kickoff in Rock Valley is set for 7:00 p.m.