SIDELINE SCENE: Football season comes to an end with DP's playoff loss

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  • | 11:07 a.m. December 4, 2014
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ORLANDO — Somebody wins, somebody loses. 

It happens every time two teams step on a playing field (well, for the most part).

It’s a simple enough concept to wrap one’s mind around, but that doesn’t make its truth any less devastating as the stakes get higher.

I was standing behind the north end zone at “The Spoon” when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete with time winding down and Manatee ahead 24-21. With that turnover on downs, the Dr. Phillips Panthers’ 2014 season ended. 

From my vantage point I could see both sidelines, both cheering sections. One side erupted in jubilation; the other was utterly deflated. 

As the Class 8A Region 2 Championship went final, the disbelief and dejection felt by the Panthers poured over. Some players were crumpled up on the turf, others stared into the distance, most teared up and some were inconsolable. 

This was a team that, from the very first day of fall camp, came into this season with the expectation of winning an FHSAA State Title. 

I remember visiting practice at Dr. Phillips that first week of fall camp, and I could just feel the sense of expectations — and confidence — in the air. The energy that coach Rodney Wells, his staff and his players created weeks before they would even take the field for a game was impressive. What the Panthers did throughout the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, going 12-0, was impressive, too.

On Friday, all of that ended. 

As reporters, we are tasked with being unbiased and objective, but when it comes to high school sports it’s nearly impossible not to foster some connection with the teams and the kids you cover. They are, after all, kids, and you root for them.

Which brings me to my point, which is that this is the power of high school football. That game meant everything to those young men. The raw emotion, the passion they displayed, is admirable and commendable. Friday was tough, but so many people should consider themselves lucky to be as passionate and dedicated as the players on the Dr. Phillips roster — or any other roster for that matter.

This is what we love about sports, and especially about high-school sports. We love that entire seasons, literally hours and hours of hardwork, blood, sweat and tears, come down to one play or one drive.

We don’t love that players are so dejected after a loss, but we love that it means so much to them and, in some cases, to us. There are certainly more important things to be dejected about in life than a game — but that’s part of the point, isn’t it? Sports are an escape from reality and, often, rationality. A game can mean everything.

With Dr. Phillips’ loss, football season came to an end for the coverage area. The Panthers were the last man standing, so to speak.

With that in mind, here’s to another exciting, engaging season of high-school football in West Orange County. 

It was one heck of a ride — so, let’s do it again next fall.


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