When the clock hits 0:00 and the final horn sounds, one team advances in the playoffs. And the other is done for the year.
That’s the reality of high school football at the end of the season. Most of the seniors play their final game with no plans to play in college.
I walk down the steps from the stadium press box to interview the coaches of both teams and the key players from the winning team. The players of the losing team huddle with their coach at one end of the field. The players and coaches from the winning team celebrate with their families and fans.
I hear the sobs and see the tears. I witness the hugs between the coaches and the players and the family members.
It’s an emotional time. This is a sudden ending and a heartbreaking ending for those who won’t wear their high school football uniform on the field again.
After interviewing the winning team’s coach and top players, I walk toward the losing team’s dressing room. In this case, it’s the home team. The coach invites me into his office. This was a difficult playoff loss. His team lost the lead in the final minute and fell by three points.
The coach first gives credit to the winning team and its quarterback who had played an outstanding game. Then he praises his own players and talks about how they love football and each other and how much he enjoyed coaching them. He said he hates to see their year come to an end.
On Friday more teams in Alabama will experience either of these extremes of emotion. They’ll either survive and advance to the next round or they’ll see their year conclude. Only one team in each of the seven classifications will raise the blue-map championship trophy at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa in early December.