Every football season has its memorable images, often snapshots of exhilaration or sadness that coincide with victory or defeat.
As sectionals kick off in Indiana, there's been no greater scene to date than what transpired last Friday at Lake Central. Following Valparaiso's 35-21 loss, Vikings players marched across The Burial Grounds following the usual midfield exchange to the home sidelines, where they expressed their sentiments to injured Indians star David Yancey.
"I've never seen that before in my entire life and I've raised three older ones besides David," Unice Yancey said. "The whole football team, each and every one, came over and shook his hand and wished him well. I was a mother on the sideline crying and to see a team that had just lost do that, what a class act. That shows a lot of character."
Unice Yancey was so moved by the actions that she contacted the Times in hopes of making more people aware of what had happened. In a business where we're often accused of dwelling on the negative, it wouldn't have been right to overlook it.
"I'm glad to know those kind of kids are still out there," Yancey said. "It's a testament to the team and their coaches. They're not just building football players, they're building character individuals, the kind I want to see taking over the world. I'm painting with a broad brush there, but the Valparaiso community needs to know about these excellent representatives of their city."
Valpo coach Dave Coyle didn't direct his players to go over to Yancey. He was talking to L.C. coach Brett St. Germain when his captains CJ Gear, Lonnie Pappas and Andrew Kittridge organized their team.
"We have great captains, great senior leaders," Coyle said. "One thing we stress every game is class. I don't care if we win by a big margin or lose horribly. Show class. Be respectful to your opponent. It's like a facet of life. We teach it every day."
Coyle said it's a quality that's been instilled in Valpo players for years under former coach Mark Hoffman.
"Thank God I had a mentor like that," he said. "As a young coach, a new coach, you don't think about things like that, class, respect, what wearing the uniform means in the community."
As a teacher-coach, Coyle can make every effort to convey that message, but it must fall on open ears. Friday's actions confirm it's coming through loud and clear.
"These kids come from great families, too," he said. "You can't forget about the family values as well."
It was also good to hear Unice Yancey say the initial fears that David suffered a serious injury have been allayed. Early tests showed a calf strain. No broken bones. No ACL problems.
"I don't know why I looked at that film. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach," she said. "But looking at it, I would think my son had a rubber leg. We're really blessed. He's standing on it, walking on it. He wants to be out with his team. We're telling him to slow down. He's got to look out for his future."
It's safe to assume Valpo would've done the same thing no matter who it was, but Yancey's reputation also precedes him. He's a humble, respectful young man of star talent but not a star ego.
"He's certainly a bright prospect and a class act as well," Coyle said. "I'd like to think what we did wasn't unique, that all teams have the same values."
Don't we all.
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.