When it came to sports, it was the talk of the town. The prime topic and buzz around Dutchess County.
They’ll still be talking about it years from now, even though the Our Lady of Lourdes football team just missed reaching the pinnacle of high school sports. On Friday, the Warriors lost to Section 6’s South Park, 49-46, in the New York State Class A championship game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Still, it was a sensational run. It was unprecedented by a Lourdes football team and a feat that hadn’t been matched by a football team in the county since Dover reached the Class C state final in 1997 — though Dover subsequently won.
But now, after such a fantastic postseason, it begs the question: How do next year’s Warriors follow it?
The answers came back in many different ways. It depends on how badly they want to work, if you ask the coach.
“It’s really up to the kids,” said Brian Walsh, whose Warriors finished the season 10-3. “We lose some really great football players out of the senior class. It’s going to be up to the younger kids to see if they want to put in the kind of time, if they want to be committed to having a great team.”
Perhaps the biggest subtractions for the Warriors will be quarterback Dean Rotger and wide receiver Luke Timm. Rotger connected with Timm for his final completion of his high school career and passed for 408 yards in the state title game. Timm set a state championship record for receptions — with 18 — and he gave his own proverbial pat on the back to the team’s underclassmen.
“With a lot of hard work, like us seniors have done, the future looks bright,” Timm said. “That’s the way Lourdes is every single year. We come out and we prepare. If those younger kids do the same thing that us upperclassmen have done, then it looks good for them too.”
Along with Rotger and Timm, 13 other seniors on the Lourdes football team will graduate in the spring. Those who won’t be returning are giving way to players like Joe Scaglione and Cam Jones to take up their mantle — sophomores who will come back as juniors next year. There will also be 13 juniors returning as seniors in 2016.
“After a great season like this, we still have great coaches, we still have a great foundation” said Scaglione, a tailback and middle linebacker. “Obviously we lose a few core guys, but we’ll still be successful.”
The effort doesn’t leave with the seniors. Ask Jones.
“I know for me, I’m going to do my best to work as hard as possible,” said Jones, a defensive tackle. “And all the underclassmen along with me, we’re going to work as hard as possible to be as best as we can next year.”
And while next year will bring changes to the team as every new season does, the younger players are eager for what is in store for next year’s group. Mainly, the bonding and ambition that come with being a member of a team.
“I look forward to establishing new friendships, new guys on the team,” Scaglione added. “And getting better in the offseason and having another successful year, hopefully.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports
Visit http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com for comprehensive coverage of the Lourdes football team’s state championship game on Friday, including videos and a photo gallery. Find video interviews of the Warriors analyzing the ups and downs of the contest, the difficulties of covering South Park’s speed, their appreciation for the fans who visited Syracuse and more.
While there, check out coverage leading up to the game, including feature stories on Lourdes’ longtime successful coach Brian Walsh, and a look back at Dover’s 1997 state title.