Twenty-Seven Knights Left It All On The Field
Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Around this area, most teams that complete a perfect regular season, as the Buckingham Knights did in 2009, usually have to worry about having enough uniforms and equipment for the following campaign.
Everyone wants to be associated with a winner.
On the surface, it's seen as one of those good problems to have. Football teams don't generally complain about having too many bodies, or tackling dummies to beat up on in practice.
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But the 2010 BCHS football team numbered only 27 players, which was down about eight players from the previous year.
Thin, even for Group A standards.
And while it left no margin for error, or injury, the Knights didn't fall off. They just kept winning. Then, they gave the odds-on favorite to capture the Group A, Division 2 State Title all they wanted, and then some.
Twenty-seven football players. Not a healthy number of good athletes, and a bunch of Johnny Come Latelies complaining on the sideline in a clean jersey. Twenty-seven ballers. All with one goal, and all willing to give up whatever it took to get another shot at Gretna – which also took out the Knights in overtime in 2009.
Granted, Buckingham fell short of two goals. Only the very bad and the very best teams get to end their seasons with a victory. Buckingham's second shot at Gretna, and their furious rally from 20 points down to the Hawks toward the end of the third quarter came up a little short on the scoreboard.
But, the Knights found out something about themselves that they probably already knew, but weren't totally aware of at the time. They never give up. Ever.
Most teams that fall behind Gretna by three scores, usually go on to lose by at least six. Gretna didn't get to where it is today, by letting off the gas.
Twenty-seven players had a goal and never lost sight of it, even when Gretna was gearing up to make the Knights pay for daring to tug on Superman's cape. They scrapped and clawed, erased the sizeable lead, and got back to the point where every play mattered.
After Gretna's winning PAT kick, several BCHS players fell to the ground. Yeah, because of the emotion of a season-ending loss, but also because they really didn't have anything else to give. It was all left on the field.
Instead of celebrating a well-earned victory, many of the Gretna players, instead, chose to console their fallen opponents in a show of sportsmanship and respect. Even in the moment of victory, they realized that it could've just as easily been them on the ground.
For the Knights, the loss was a bitter pill – a little harder to swallow than last year's defeat, and probably more difficult than a six-touchdown throttling.
Two teams found out something about themselves on Friday. Gretna, after 11-straight weeks of cruising to victories, found out that it could win a four-plus quarter game. If used correctly, that lesson can help the Hawks as they move on from here to a possible state title.
Buckingham, however, found that the same spirit that moved them to hit the weight room in the spring, that pushed them in the 100-degree heat of preseason workouts, was the same spirit that allowed them to get up off the mat and take one last shot at glory – against what, at times, looked to be some long odds.