Lamar column: War Eagles claim a big prize

Lamar column: War Eagles claim a big prize

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Lamar column: War Eagles claim a big prize

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CRAWFORDVOLLE

Twenty years ago, this game would have meant everything.

The winning team would have celebrated well into the night. The seniors would breathe the air of victory, knowing they had still had a chance to chase their dreams. And the losing team would have cried its way back home, knowing the season was over.

It was a way of life in this state for so many years – and so many heartbreaks. The players and coaches grew up understanding the one simple truth: Either win, or stay home.

But that was then.

Today, the Godby High Cougars wake up feeling absolutely rotten about what happened Friday night. They will watch film of the football game they played against Wakulla and cringe at the mistakes – the penalties, the fumbles, the blown assignments.

And today, the War Eagles will replay in their minds all the big moments from Friday night’s 23-12 victory. They will log on to their computers or smart phones and – thanks to the marvels of modern technology – watch those big plays again and again to make sure they have the details just right. Mostly, they will celebrate a second straight District 2-5A championship.

And the War Eagles have plenty to brag about today.

They, once again, have a hard-nosed defense and a disciplined offense that picks and picks and picks at the opponent until it finds the crack it needs.

On Friday, Wakulla ran the same sweep play over and over and over again – grinding out little chunks of yards at a time until it stretched the defense just enough to deliver a home-run ball.

Senior tailback Demetrius Lindsey delivered the first big shot on a 72-yard touchdown run right through the heart of the Godby defense. It came on the same exact play he fumbled on the previous possession – a fumble that led to the Cougars’ first touchdown.

Freshman receiver Keith Gavin – that’s a name folks need to remember – delivered the second big play when he went up and over a Godby defender for a 4-yard touchdown pass to give the War Eagles a 16-6 lead.

By then, it became pretty clear that this was Wakulla’s game to lose – and the War Eagles weren’t about to give it away.

Godby tried answering, but never could get its offense clicking. The Cougars have plenty of big-play weapons, but none of them could break loose for the game-changer Godby so desperately needed after falling behind.

Instead, the Cougars found themselves in the same position they were in a year ago in their regular-season game against Wakulla. They were forced to rally, and simply could not.

And, because of that, they wake up today thankful that they still have something to play for before this season ends.

This game – as fun as it was to watch, and as emotional as it was for the players and coaches to stage – will not define either team’s season.

The real fun begins in two weeks with the start of the regional playoffs. That’s when seasons end. That’s where success is defined.

What Friday night did was set up the parameters for what very well could be another thriller in the playoffs.

Godby, which entered the weekend ranked No. 4 in Class 5A, closes out the regular season next week against Class 7A power Lincoln – perhaps the best possible warm-up for a playoff run. Wakulla, the No. 1 team in Class 5A, plays host to Pensacola Escambia to close out its regular season.

Then the Cougars head west for the first round of the playoffs. And the War Eagles will open the regionals with a guaranteed home game.

That’s the big prize earned Friday night.

And based on the 2,500 or so fans who turned J.D. Jones Stadium into a big-time home-field advantage, that’s a pretty significant prize indeed.

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