COAL CITY – It was one heck of a ride for the Coal City football team this season. Unfortunately, it came to an end Saturday afternoon in a 17-14 loss to Richmond-Burton.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives that the Coalers can take away from both Saturday’s game and the season as a whole.
For one things, a bulk of this team will return next year. There were only 12 seniors on the 56-man playoff roster. Most of those seniors were starters on either offense or defense, but there are still a lot of players returning with a wealth of experience next season.
Not that the seniors – Connor Skubic, Max Arias, Cole Garcia, Ryan Wasielewski, Zack Sandeno, Brandon Strnad, Aaron McMurtrey, Wills Payton, Gio Ferrara, Michael Leasure, Mason Mulcahy, and Christian Knutson – won’t be missed. They provided not only talent on the field, but leadership both on and off it.
“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to the seniors,” Coal City coach Dan Hutchings said. “I just love watching these guys compete, whether it’s in football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, track, whatever they play.
“They lost a football game, and it’s going to sting. But, in the grand scheme of things, they are going to graduate. Some are going to go to college, some are going to go to work, some are going to go to the military. They are going to be husbands and fathers.
“This is a group of kids that does things the right way. I can’t remember ever once having one of those guys in the office for a disciplinary issue. They play Coaler football. They are part of that fraternity for life. You look in the crowd, and you see a lot of guys that used to play here coming out and supporting they guys playing now. These seniors know that if they ever need anything, they can call me. And, they are part of a brotherhood that will last them the rest of their lives with their other Coalers.”
For those returning next year, there is the feeling of a tough loss that will likely motivate them to have a better season. There is a wealth of talented players coming back that will have a bit of a chip on their shoulder and will want to advance further than the quarterfinals. Plus, they will have a year of experience under their belt, and another year to get their bodies faster and stronger.
“We have a lot coming back,” Hutchings said. “Our quarterback, one of our main running backs, some good receivers, two defensive linemen, a couple of linebackers and a couple of defensive backs. All of them were starters and they have a lot of experience.
“We know this loss hurts, but we will get back at it soon and start getting ready for next year.”
The future does indeed look bright for the Coal City football program. And the 2018 team gave the teams coming after it something to shoot for.