Thomas Hernandez seemed only mildly interested to learn that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record when he hit 61 homers back in 1961.
Hernandez was asked if the No. 61 held any particular significance to him.
“Not to me,” he said. “I have certain numbers that have special meanings to me, but not 61.”
It should. That is the state-record number of consecutive games Lincoln Park’s football team has lost, dating back to Sept. 1, 2006.
“I didn’t know the number, but I knew the last win was against Edsel Ford,” Hernandez said. “I think I was in the fourth grade. It’s been awhile.”
Hernandez is a 5-foot-6, 168-pound junior fullback/linebacker on the Lincoln Park varsity, so it’s understandable that the last number he wants to talk about during the opening week of football is 61.
“We try to keep the past in the past and look toward the future,” he said. “We’re more here as a new team. This year is a new team, a new concept — ‘Win the Day.’ We have a lot of concepts like that.”
The Railsplitters have tried many concepts in the recent past, but none has worked as each of the last six seasons all ended 0-9.
But in Week 6 last fall, Lincoln Park led Taylor Kennedy, 3-0, late in the game when a Kennedy player blocked a punt and a scoop-and-score resulted in loss No. 58.
Hernandez was on the junior varsity team last season and witnessed that loss from the bleachers.
“I was heart-broken,” he said. “It was devastating for everyone in the stands and the players and coaches and the parents. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.”
Hernandez has a 3.899 grade-point average and wants to be an architect. He chose architecture because his house burned down when he was in elementary school and he was fascinated watching the architect design how the house would be rebuilt.
But right now Hernandez is more concerned about the upcoming football season, one he has been anticipating for months.
“It’s my life,” he said. “It’s what I look forward to in the morning waking up. Even in the off-season that’s all I thought about. I did wrestling to get my footwork down for football. In weightlifting, that’s all I thought about was football, football, football.”
The national record for consecutive losses is 82 by Glascock County in Georgia, so the Railsplitters are a long way from that.
Lincoln Park’s football program is low on numbers at every level. Some kids don’t want to be a part of team that does nothing but lose.
But then there are kids like Hernandez, who wants to be a part of more than just a team.
“I play because it’s the love of my life,” he said. “That’s who I am. It’s shaped the man I’ve become today. I’ve played it since I was little and I fell in love with it since the first time I stepped on the field. These guys here are my family.”
This is Team 80 in Lincoln Park history, and for the record, its losing streak is not 61.
It is 0.
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