Down 48-14 at halftime, with their season on the line, and playoff hopes ticking away with every precious second, the Woodsboro Eagles held tightly to both character and heart.
Although this story does not have the happy ending that Eagle fans were looking for, the emotional roller coaster experienced by those that made the 145-mile trip to support the Eagles will be etched into their memories forever.
The Eagles outscored the Badgers 36-13 in the second half but, saw their bid for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance disappear with a hard fought loss to their newest arch rival, the Bruni Badgers.
“I have never been involved in a game as wild as this one,” said Coach Brad Vickers. “I am so proud of our kids for not quitting and coming out the way they did in the second half. We were down by 34 points and we could have easily called it a night. It was really an exciting game it just did not end the way we wanted it to.”
The Eagles came into this District 16-A finale having to win by 14 points to secure the final playoff spot. The 14 point difference was needed to clear up the tiebreaker that would have emerged had Woodsboro won.
The Eagles were also facing a Bruni team with revenge on their minds. In last season’s finale, the Eagles knocked the Badgers out of the playoffs with a win at home.
With everything going against his team and the odds getting worse, Coach Vickers summoned his inner best at halftime to inspire his team to come out and make it a game of two halves.
“I told our kids about a team I had coached a while back and how we were in a situation very similar and how we came out and played a great second half. I told them that we still had 24 minutes to write this chapter of our season. I told them that either good or bad, that we would always remember what our response was.”
Leading the way for the Eagles was Daniel Ortega with 78 yards rushing and three touchdowns, Tyler Quesada ran for one score and hit Jacob Nesloney with a 32 yard touchdown pass, Lionel Brown had a 50 yard touchdown run, and Daniel Ochoa recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. As a team the Eagles mustered 253 yards of offense and 19 first downs.
Coach Vickers summed up this season by saying, “our team showed great flashes of improvement as the season went on but, we also saw our youth and inexperience at times to. There were times we did not know how to react to certain situations. This young group of players will come back next season very battle tested.”
Coach Vickers also said he was very pleased with his seniors this season. “Their desire to be successful and their work ethic is what we needed as a team. Our seniors have been to the playoffs the last three seasons so, I know that was their expectation coming into this season.
“We did not make it but, like I told them the only team that ends their season the way they want it to end is the eventual state champion,” Vickers said. “Our seniors will be very productive members of our society and I am very proud knowing they will.”
Coach Vickers looked to next season.
“I told our kids that we will have a lot of talent coming back next year and only a few pieces to the puzzle,” he said. “It will be up to our kids as to what they want to do and where they want to be.
“We have a very good nucleus for the next couple of years to build on. The experience our younger players gained this year will go a long way in helping us down the road. We also have a good group of junior high kids coming up that will help us.”
The 2011 football season is over for the Woodsboro Eagles. For the second year in a row, the Eagles found themselves in the familiar position of having to win their last game to reach the postseason.
This time, the game slipped away. What did not slip away from the Eagles was their character and heart.
For 24 minutes it was on display in Bruni for fans of both sides to see.
Those that attended the game of the year will probably forget the final score.
What they will never forget is the group of young men in green and white that refused to quit.