LANSING | You lose to your big rival in overtime and you are assured of not making the playoffs for just the third time in the last 18 years.
It would be real easy for the T.F. South football team to cash it in after Friday's 16-14 overtime loss to T.F. North.
Somehow, I don't think that will happen. South has played well this year, but just has not come out on the winning end against some tough teams like Crete-Monee, Lemont, Oak Forest, Bremen and a 5-2 T.F. North team.
You could see the drain and maybe some stress on the players' faces Friday, even though they played well and came up with some big plays on both sides of the ball. It was frustration and the same goes for coach Tom Padjen and the Rebels coaching staff.
"It's not like we haven't played well," Padjen said. "It's not for the lack of effort -- that's for sure."
South has had just four losing seasons in the last 21 years, including a 4-5 mark two seasons ago when the Rebels lost to five 8-1 teams. This year is similar if you look at who they have lost to. Shepard comes in next week and it is homecoming, so all the festivities aside, the team needs to be focused on the Astros, who are 3-3 after Friday's loss to Eisenhower. Then it's Tinley Park and Hillcrest.
"Last year we lost one game at home and now this year, we can't win at home," Padjen said. "We just have to get ready because there is no easy game on our schedule."
The Rebels are 0-3 at home and play their next two at home.
Sure they made mistakes Friday night, but they also made some nice plays and when Giovanni Canty scored to tie the game 8-8 in the third quarter, you could see the team get a jolt of adrenaline. It looked like they might pick up a win when Tre'Von Hughes scored in overtime, but North countered and made the PAT to win.
It has not been a good year at T.F. South, but there is some pride to salvage. The seniors will be counted on more than ever to take charge and leave the program with pride, no matter what happens in the next three weeks. Develop a chip and decide no team is going to beat you to clinch a postseason berth.
There will always be mistakes on the field because that is the nature of the game and no player is perfect. But you can be ready for practice, give it your all and not back down from any opponent. It is too easy to just let the rest of the season go down the drain, but that would be so un-T.F. South. Coach Padjen has a lot of pride in the school, program and community. I know the South staff will be preparing as if a playoff berth is on the line.
They will not give up and they have the utmost confidence that the players will step up.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.