High school football isn’t always about winning and losing. It’s about the relationships, the comradery young men develop between each other and how they play for the pure love of the game.
It was a stirring, emotional scene In Elk Grove last night, following the #9 Pitman Pride’s 44-27 first-round playoff loss to the #8 Franklin (Elk Grove) Wildcats at Sheldon Community Stadium.
For many of the Pride (7-4) seniors it would be the last time they would play competitive football, the last time they would be part of a real team. The tears streamed freely for nearly every senior on the roster during an on-field, impromptu post-game gathering of players, coaches, staff and families.
The normally stoic Pride first year head coach, Tom Tyler, broke down in tears as he individually embraced his seniors and then addressed the entire team in one last huddle of the season.
“I very proud of all of you tonight. This is a fine group of men, the scoreboard is not who you are. It’s not always about winning the game, it’s about how hard you worked and this will be a foundation for the rest of your life,” he told his players. “You have set a standard by which all future teams will be measured for how hard you worked this year.”
The 2013 class of seniors had the most wins in the Pride’s history, compiling a 34-8 overall record as a group.
In their final football games for the Pride, several seniors displayed tremendous heart and work ethic. Senior running back Drew Lewis, all of 5-foot 7-inches and 150 pounds, battled through a severe leg injury with a stout performance in the contest. Before the game Tyler commented that he was unlikely to play because of an injury he suffered in the Harvest Bowl last week.
Lewis rushed for the Pride’s first TD to tie the game 7-7 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.
Later, senior quarterback Wyatt Clapper connected with fellow senior Chance Hagar on a 70-yard pass, which set up a six-yard bootleg TD run by Clapper on a second-and-goal. The score gave the Pride a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
With the score tied 14-14 and about one minute left in the first half, senior defensive back Bryce Silva and senior linebacker Nick Roditis each had pivotal sacks to stop a Wildcat drive that seemed destined to end in a touchdown.
Hagar scored the Pride’s third touchdown on a fierce 69-yard dash right up the middle of the Wildcat’s defense to give Pitman a 21-17 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter. Hagar was hammered throughout the contest by Franklin’s large defensive front, and on several occasions it looked like he would not continue. But he played on. On the defensive side of the ball Hagar also played well, with numerous tackles.
Unfortunately for the Pride. they were simply out-muscled in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats pulled away, scoring four unanswered touchdowns to secure a win.
However, the Pride had one last highlight. Trailing 44-21 on the final play in his final game of his high school career, Clapper connected with senior receiver Ryan Vargas on a 48-yard TD pass as time expired, creating the 44-27 final score.
Clapper finished the game with two (one rushing) touchdowns on 167 yards passing. Hagar had 147 yards on offense. Senior running back Logan Wolfley had 71 yards on offense.
2013 Pitman Seniors (34-8)
3- Logan Wolfley, 4- Mario Lewis, 6- Ryan Vargas, 7- Wyatt Clapper, 8- Chance Hagar, 10- Brandon Ureno, 11- Ken Nichols, 14- Brent Gonsalves, 15- Justin Nowlin, 17- Marcus Vasquez, 20- D’Andre Griffen, 21- Bryce Silva, 23- Billy Taylor, 24- Drew Lewis, 25- Julian Carrera, 27- Paul Lencioni, 28- Jonathan Greene, 29- Christian Guillen, 31- Justin Van Fleet, 33- Justin Giesbrecht, 34- Jorge Pena, 37- Luis Salazar, 40- Alex Rodin, 45- Nick Roditis, 50- Ramon Martinez, 51- Garett Brock, 52- Tim Blakemore, 55- Eric Bejaran, 58- Justin Scroggins, 62- Elijah Silveira, 64- Joey Berry, 67- Eddie Chikarallah, 68- Adam Luster, 70- Aaron Lusher, 71- Harpreet Singh, 74- Damian Morales, 75- Isaac Figueroa, 76- Justin Bradley, 78- JC Ban, 87- Alex Perumalla, 88- Jeremy Ellenbarger.
Pride RB Logan Wolfley displays how emotional an impromptu post-game gathering became when one-by-one Pride seniors lined up to say goodbye to their underclassmen teammates and coaches. 11-15-13 Photo: Jonathan McCorkell – TurlockCityNews.com