Tears streamed down faces, consoling words pierced the silence. The Eastern View players walked to the bus with a line of fans cheering them all the way.
“Good job, guys,” a parent shouted while the line of players walked by.
Words didn’t help the feelings of the players, it was plain and simple, they had lost and the season was over. That was true, but head coach Greg Hatfield still believed his team should hold its head high.
“If you were to ask probably everybody, but Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, at the beginning of the year, ‘Would you take 13-1,’ they would say, ‘Yes,’” Hatfield said. “These kids can’t hang their head on being 13-1. That is a heck of a season.”
The Cyclones end the most successful season in program history with nothing left to give. A few missed opportunities are all that stands in the way of a state title berth. For some players, they will have the chance to avenge this loss. For other players, this marks the end of their Eastern View football careers.
The Cyclones say goodbye to 18 seniors, arguably their most successful class in program history. During their time with the program, the team never lost on their home field. The class of 2019 was a part of three straight undefeated regular seasons with two of those season the program reaching unprecedented heights. Reflecting back, running back Trey Holmes had some advice for future graduates of the football program.
“Don’t take [this] for granted,” Holmes said. “Do what you do, just play the game and show good sportsmanship every day.”
For all of the seniors, the next step is into the next phase of their lives. High school is a time where kids grow into adults. Coach Hatfield has watched boys turn into men before his eyes multiple times throughout his time as a football coach. Every time a season ends, a senior class says goodbye to the football program and it is never easy for a coach to say goodbye.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Hatfield said, thinking about the growth he has seen from the senior class through the years. “It is always hard… [the coaching staff] asks them to do so much and they do it. To end on a sad note instead of a happy note, it hurts, we hurt for them.”
A football team becomes a family after all the time that is spent together. Linebacker Zach Brown says that is the hardest part.
“I’ve been playing with the same kids since I was four years old,” Brown said. “Just not playing with them for another week is definitely going to be tough.”
If one thing is clear, it is that the Eastern View fan base appreciates the team. The visitors section was completely full at the time of the opening kickoff with the cheers from the crowd drowning out the whistles at times. While the team walked to the bus, the sound of clapping overtook the feeling of sadness.
Everyone knew it had been a great season, a season that can never be taken away from the team. Especially for the class of 2019, an all-time great class of football players.