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Gregory gunslinger McCance picks Coyotes

Gregory High School quarterback Andy McCance has been named the Daily Republic's Football Player of the Year. (Matt Gade / Republic)

GREGORY — Since he was young, Andy McCance has set out to play Division I football in college.

The Gregory High School quarterback took a big step toward doing that on Monday, verbally committing to play at the University of South Dakota. He will join the Coyotes as a preferred walk-on.

The Coyotes have been McCance's frontrunner since before his senior season and McCance made the decision official on Monday. He told The Daily Republic that it came down to the Coyotes coaching staff believing in him as a Division I quarterback.

"It just felt like home to me and they just believe in me and my skills. That's really what it came down to for me," McCance said. "I went and visited some other places but nothing else felt quite like USD."

McCance led the Gorillas to back-to-back undefeated seasons and Class 9AA state championships as a 5-foot-11, 185-pound quarterback, leading the Gorillas to a 29-4 record in three seasons as the starting quarterback. In his career, he finished as Gregory's all-time leading passer with 6,228 yards, 89 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

McCance, who was named The Daily Republic's football player of the year for 2017, was a two-time Class 9AA all-state pick, helping Gregory average 47 points per game as senior, completing 117 of 185 passes for 2,578 yards, 40 touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 1,141 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground for Gregory.

"I wanted to play Division I football and this is going to be a great chance to play at a top program in the FCS level," he said. "Not everyone gets that chance and it's really a once in a lifetime opportunity."

McCance said he hopes he can bring some of the same skills to USD's offense that they've had this year, run by senior quarterback Chris Streveler, who is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton FCS national player of the year award.

"We kind of run the same offense as USD, on a different level," McCance said. "I'm a dual threat and can run and throw and get out of the pocket."

McCance said he also visited Division II Minnesota State Moorhead and also considered Southwest Minnesota State but ultimately felt the Coyotes were the best fit. He hasn't decided on what he will study, but is considering physical therapy.

He will get a chance to play in the DakotaDome, the site of two state championship triumphs for the Coyotes.

"It's just a great environment," McCance said. "Everyone is watching. It's a big stadium and big stage and it's a special place to play."