8:11 PM EST, November 11, 2012
Playoffs are a paradox.
Most teams play to be among the best in their sport, but also run the risk of losing their last game of the season.
It’s the reward — and the curse — of being successful.
Sure, a championship is at the end of the rainbow, but very few get to dive into the pot of gold.
Coaches and players dream of that opportunity, though. Nothing feels better than winning that title, and nothing feels worse than losing even though you had that chance.
That’s the paradox: Taking the many chances for disappointment for just one opportunity to celebrate.
The Maryland state football playoffs began Friday with 64 teams — grouped in four classes of 16 — playing for the holy grail of winning an elusive state championship.
By the end of Saturday night, 32 were still alive, while 32 were heading home after losing that last game.
Boonsboro was one of those teams in the latter category.
It’s hard to say that the Warriors’ 39-16 loss to Brunswick on Friday was any tougher than those suffered by the other 31 teams that were eliminated. After all, North Hagerstown lost, too.
Still, there was a certain twinge that pulled in the chest when Clayton Anders, his staff and the small band of players kneeled at the 30-yard line for their final postgame huddle after missing their chance.
Everyone took the moment hard. It was like getting a door slammed in your face and actually getting hit by it.
There were the obvious reasons, but the one that prevailed in the moment was the finality of the situation.
As the Railroaders celebrated their right to play another day, the Warriors were putting the final period on one of the more exciting and improbable chapters in the school’s football history.
Boonsboro won 18 of the 23 games it played over the last two seasons, which included two trips to the playoffs. That was as good as, if not better than, a number of teams that wore the rounded “B” on their helmets for Anders.
These Warriors probably went places they shouldn’t have gone, but they became a living testament of what it takes to play Boonsboro football.
These Warriors didn’t instill fear when they walked on the field. Small in numbers and stature, they looked more like the Lollipop Guild than the Monsters of the Midway.
“We only had one or two kids on the field who weighed more than 200 pounds,” said Anders. “I don’t know how they did it.”
Football has the image of being a game designed to be played by behemoths and is arguably the sport that relies the most on teamwork to obtain success.
Boonsboro substituted speed for size, and enhanced it with a refined and reconstituted form of teamwork to obtain success, all for one overbearing reason.
No one thought they could do it.
“There’s a lot of smart kids and good citizens on this team,” Anders said, obviously moved by the reality of the moment. “They are good kids and I enjoyed working with them. They are team-oriented and unselfish. It didn’t matter who was carrying the ball and getting things done. It didn’t matter as long as the team was successful.”
Two years ago, many thought the Warriors would go through a lull. It looked like the talent, size and football mentality had cycled out and the wait was on for it to come back around.
Lost in the shuffle, though, were some familiar names to Warriors football that popped up together again.
There was another Poffenberger, Seabright and Walsh on the team, names that were part of the last dominant Boonsboro cycle. It was a clash of family, pedigree and tradition.
Names like Jardeleza, Strunk and Ruiz enhanced it.
But maybe the biggest trademark of Boonsboro football is the versatility of the players.
Despite small bodies and limited teammates, the Warriors found ways to fill holes as injuries took their toll.
“We have to practice that way and have guys playing in a couple of different positions,” Anders said. “We are always one or two players away from disaster.”
So, Boonsboro players jumped into positions like checkers on a checkerboard and were kinged for their efforts.
But on Friday, it came to an end. A tough night ended with some tears and quiet, measured statements to ensure everyone knew that what they had done was relevant.
“You accomplished more than anyone gave you credit for,” said defensive coordinator Pete Yurish, reminding the players that there will be tougher moments to come in their life.
In that instance, the present package containing a loss, the end of a season and a missed playoff opportunity made it tough to fathom the future.
That’s because Warriors were rewarded as winners and suffered the final curse for it.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail