Two days have passed and I still can’t get over it.
As I sit here in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I can’t believe this Grove City football team lost.
Over the past 4 months, I fell in love with that team like no other team I’ve covered in my 22-years of covering high school football.
The 2019 Eagles weren’t supposed to be playing in their fourth straight District 10 championship.
Not after losing 16 seniors from a team that went 32-4 over the previous 3 three years.
Where Grove City football teams of recent vintage may have been more talented than this edition. Those past Eagle clubs were talented and did what they did on talent and skill.
I’m not saying this group doesn’t have talent and skill — because it does— they got by with a love for their teammates and a determination that I don’t know that I’ve seen before.
That’s what makes Saturday’s 33-21 loss to Sharon in the 3A finals at Slippery Rock University so hard to stomach.
They wanted it.
They wanted it bad.
They wanted to avenge the 2018 championship loss to the Tigers and they wanted to write their names in the record books as District 10 champions.
You could see it in their eyes as they attempted to climb out
of 13-0 and 26-21 holes down at SRU. They never gave up for one second even as Lady Luck went against them.
After the final seconds had ticked off, I watched the boys — and Madison — shed tears as the jaws of defeat clamped down on their football season.
As much as I tried to hide it, several tears managed to escape my eyes as I watched the team I had grown so fond of from a distance pack up and leave the field while I waited near the fence for my daughter Maddyn to say her good-byes to her cheerleader teammates for the last time as a football cheerleader.
It was in those moments I realized what kind of a journey the 2019 Grove City Eagles took us on.
Back in August as they were starting heat acclimation practices, who would’ve thought that rag-tag bunch of kids would get to both ‘slip and slide’ and sled ride down the hill in front of the locker room?
Who would’ve thought they’d have one of the top scoring offenses in Mercer County or a defense that became adept at playing takeaway while doing it for the guy lining up next to them or the kid standing on the sideline that rarely plays.
That’s what made this season so enjoyable.
It’s also what made Saturday’s loss so excruciating ...
Because they cared — not about themselves or their stats — but the good of the Grove City Eagles football team.
And a lot of that goes back to the 7-member senior class. There have been larger and more skilled senior groups walk the halls of Grove City, but those seven seniors left a lasting legacy on Eagles football.
“In quantity, not very many but in quality, some of the best dang kids that we’ve had go through this program,” Grove City Coach Sam Mowrey said. “You have to undergrad the opportunity to put (a Grove City uniform) goes by real quick. You have to take advantage of every opportunity and take notes from (the seven seniors) that did that and made the most of their time with Grove City football.”
Because I know I couldn’t say it better myself, I’m going to leave you with the sentiments Mowrey related to his players as they met for the final time near the south endzone.
“Do NOT hang your heads!! Do you understand the ride that you brought this community on? That you brought this school on? You came out and continued to battle all season long. You should be proud of that! We lost a football game, boys, and it hurts, because it’s what you worked so hard for. These are things we have to learn from. It’s not going to be fun. Losing isn’t fun, (but) you have nothing to be ashamed of. You worked your tails off and have done everything that was asked of you. Grove City, your teammates and your coaches are proud of you guys.”
Yes, boys we are proud of you.
Thanks for the ride!
COREY J. CORBIN is a sports correspondent for The Allied News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.