The results of last night's huge D-1 high school football matchup between the undefeated Barrington Eagles and Hendricken Hawks - a matchup that, as the weeks progressed, seemed to become more and more of a possibility - ended in disappointment for Hawks' players and fans, as the Eagles emerged from Hayden Stadium with a 7-0 victory, a victory that allows them to continue to dream of an undefeated season, a state championship, to secure the #1 seed in the approaching state playoffs, and to break our guys' run of three consecutive titles.
For all in the Hendricken community, though, 'disappointing' is the correct word.
Disappointing, not painful.
Yes, it was a tough loss, no doubt, but that one loss - if it's the only one, which is by no means a guaranteed thing - will only mean two things in the end: we'll be the #2 seed, and if we advance to the Super Bowl in December, and it happens to be against Barrington, then we'll be wearing white jerseys.
Take those simple realities and put them up against the toughness of last night's struggle and the final score, and it's easier to see that all is far from lost.
One thing is certain, however: the Barrington Eagles are a very good football team. Very good.
The Providence Journal's photo gallery from the game can be seen here, and a portion of last night's contest can be seen in the Ustream viewer at the top of the page, in addition to other segments on The Network's Ustream link at the bottom of the page.
Consider these facts: the Eagles played last night without their leading senior tailback (out with a quadriceps injury), who had been churning out yardage at an alarming rate and helping the Eagles to control the ball all season; yet, the Eagles seemingly did not miss a beat, as the combination of running back Nick Jensen and quarterback Matt Rota managed to control the ball by steadily moving the ball against what is a stellar Hendricken defense.
Ball control - it was obvious from the get-go that that was the Eagles' plan of attack, to move the ball in small chunks, if necessary, but to keep moving the chains and to keep the ball out of the hands of the Hendricken offense, which has proven all season that it has real quick-strike capability, most notably with the running of Remy Blue. On a couple of occasions in the first half, it appeared that the Hawks' running attack might start to break through, but the Barrington "D" continually stepped up and met the challenge. Two of the tough runs by the Hawks can be seen here:
That's where the Barrington defense came in. They came to play, and it was clear that they weren't going to allow Remy to beat them. In fact, at one point in the third quarter it looked as though the Eagles were completely daring the Hawks to pass, as they seemed to bring at least nine - and quite possibly all 11 - defensive players into the box. Hawks' quarterback Pat Gill managed to hit on several passes of some significance, but the one that would have made all the difference in the game, a 35-yard pass into the end zone, was tipped by an Eagles' defensive back and intercepted, preventing the Hawks from tying the game in the second quarter.
While I'm sure that Coach Croft and his staff aren't exactly thrilled with the outcome, I'm sure that they'll remind their players of one important fact: the Eagles won the game 7-0. They scored one touchdown. Our defense did its job. There's a long way to go before the final story is written of what we hope to be an historic season.
The Express has been derailed a bit, but knowing our guys, they'll jump right back on the tracks.
And they jump back on those tracks next Friday night, at, of all places, the home of our respected archrivals: LaSalle. On Academy Avenue.
The Network will be there.