BY Austin Hill
The season felt like it should have ended after the first game. We trained for months with the team Eastwood in the back of our heads, and after pulling the rare opening victory, the season felt complete with our goals accomplished. Even early in the year, many were longing for the season to come to a conclusion, as that sense of fulfillment was enough to satisfy us for the year.
However, this mindset seemed to change coming into the last game. The pregame rituals of senior night made it come to full realization how special this season was, and going into the following game, I just hoped that the season would never end. I would endure another four or five weeks of exhausting practices if it meant living out this part of my life just a little longer. My desire for free time that I felt earlier in the season had vanquished, and I wanted nothing more that to sacrifice just a little more.
The Friday night before the game, the team had a sort of get together. After the usual walkthrough, we sat down for dinner and then watched a movie that Mr. Edward Perozek felt he needed to share with us. It was one of the corniest movies I’ve ever seen, so most of the team abandoned. However, jokes were flying between the few remaining, and this little moment affirmed to me how much I would miss this. We just had to win this next game to preserve it a little longer.
We strolled in Saturday morning with determination. We were met with a fiery speech from a coach that made us feel like we were invincible, and more importantly indivisible. We ate again, boarded the buses, and left for Westerville in high spirits.
And that spirit not once left us until it was dispersed all at once when the clock revealed triple zeros. The game got out of hand quite fast, but even as we walked back to the locker room down by 27, we had all the optimism in the world, as it had been repeated numerously that “we’ve been here before.” As we walked back the field, someone yelled from the stands “you guys suck!”, and it took me all my might not to point at that kid and say “watch this.”
And I know in the middle of the fourth quarter that stupid kid was watching nervously. After a favorable string of events, we were 12 points from making this one of the most miraculous games ever, one that you would see in a movie and think “that would never happen.” The momentum was leaning in our favor like it was a tree caught in a hurricane, but our storming comeback fell just short.
Even though we were faced with the fact that this wouldn’t be a miracle, we never lost hope until the final whistle blew. I remember at one point, being down by three scores with scarce time left, one of the side coaches told a senior that it was a great season, to which he took offence to as the game wasn’t even over. Such a demonstration showed how much we clung to this magical season, as we all knew one day in the future we would give anything to be back in this moment.
The scene after the game was like that of a funeral. It quickly faded though, and the ride back home was one of relief, assured that we had done something very few will ever be able to speak of in their lives. Afterall, we were the underdogs all year.