Nothing excites sports fans more than the prospect of their favored team winning a championship.
The hours of practice that the athletes put in are worth it when the season is on the line in a title match. The joy of earning a victory is beyond description.
The feelings can be just as intense when your team comes up short. To see the players advance all this way and wind up on the losing side is heartbreaking.
Those who have supported two local high school football teams this year experienced this roller coaster ride last week. The Carthage Comets and Gouverneur Wildcats both played for New York State Public High School Athletic Association titles Friday in Syracuse.
Carthage came into the Class A matchup at the Carrier Dome with a record of 11-1. The Comets met the Cornwall Dragons, the defending state champions with a record of 11-0.
The final score of 30-27 shows that Carthage competed until the very end. A 53-yard field goal attempt in the last few minutes would have tied the game, but kicker Casey Farrell’s try was blocked. The Dragons capped their season with an unblemished record of 12-0.
With an 11-0 record, Gouverneur had high hopes of notching its own perfect season at the Carrier Dome. The Wildcats met Susquehanna Valley, also a defending state champion.
The Sabres came into the match with a 12-0 record. Susquehanna Valley won its 26th consecutive game by beating the Wildcats by a score of 22-0.
Losses in championship games can sting, but Carthage and Gouverneur had exceptional seasons. The players, coaches and fans have every right to feel incredibly proud of the teams’ achievements. And no one grasps this more than do the coaches involved.
“When I was in the locker room, I gave them the same message that the other coaches did,” Carthage coach Jason Coffman said. “No matter what they ever needed, we’ll be there for them. I know there are going to be some tears and they’re going to put their head down, but it can’t last. They have so much to be proud of. They got further than any team in Carthage history; they did everything we asked them to do and played their butts off.”
“The effort was unbelievable all year, and I’m proud of our guys,” Gouverneur coach Sean Devlin said. “Back on Aug. 19, I never would have thought that we would be playing the day after Thanksgiving. This one game does not define who we are or who these guys are. The journey to get here should be what defines them overall.”
The ongoing support that Carthage and Gouverneur received from their respective communities this season meant a great deal to the players.
“Being the first team in Carthage history to make it this far, (the community) is very proud of us and we can tell by leaving here, we got sent off by the whole town,” Comets running back Fombo Azah said. “They’re still proud that we made it this far.”
“It’s very humbling and knowing how awesome of a community we have behind us, and they always support us no matter what,” said Wildcats running back Cayden Stowell. “Even tonight after a loss, they were just real positive and that helps everything.”
We congratulate the Carthage Comets and Gouverneur Wildcats for making 2019 a football season to remember. This was the first trip that both teams made to a state title game, and we know it won’t be their last.