MISHAWAKA | Head down, one knee on the ground, Eleazar Henderson wept at Steele Field in Mishawaka on Friday night.
The Morton senior felt like he had the weight of the world and a grand piano sitting on his shoulder.
A few moments earlier, Governors coach Roy Richards had singled out his star running back. He had words that were bigger than Morton's 39-7 loss to Mishawaka in the Class 4A regional.
“I told him if you harp on one play, the mistake you made in this game, then you're forgetting about some more important things,” Richards said. “You're forgetting about the big play you made two weeks ago, or the play you made last week, the plays that got us into this game.
“At one point all of us play either the hero or the goat. That's life. That's sports.”
What on God's green earth could Henderson have been crying about in a 32-point loss?
Morton trailed the Cavemen 18-7 at halftime. The Govs marched down the field and Henderson took a run around the left end and got to the 10-yard line.
A Mishawaka hand came in and swiped the ball to the ground. The home team recovered. Yes, the game changed.
Maybe, just maybe, that would've sparked Morton, only being down four with a lot of time left. Maybe, just maybe, it would've made a difference. But for these eyes that is a doubtful statement.
You win as a team and you lose as a team — and Morton, as a team, had plenty of mistakes.
Ill-timed penalties. Bad snaps. Fumbles. More than just Henderson's.
Morton has been Da Region's top team over the last four years, with four sectional championships, but this year's version had five losses in the regular season, which was unheard of in recent autumns.
Those Ls came from mistakes, by all. This L came from mistakes, by all. Not just the proud senior wearing No. 22.
“This run has meant a lot,” Henderson said, fighting back tears. “Great teamwork. Great chemistry. We jelled together. Going out together, like a family. Reaching the regionals when no one picked us to. We had our chances tonight.”
He took a breath and had one more sentence to leave on our area's sports landscape.
“One Gov, we all we got,” he said, before walking toward the locker room.
This was a great run by a group of young men who could have quit a long time ago. They didn't. And they gave their coach, and their community, something they'll remember for a long time.
“I will never forget that (sectional) trophy,” Richards said. “I will remember that for the rest of my life.”
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.