Ending doesn't deter from G-N's greatest season
Ending doesn’t deter from G-N's greatest season
A cold chill enveloped Municipal Stadium’s Ray Snyder Sr. Field as dusk dethroned the day Saturday afternoon. Maybe Hillhouse didn’t notice. Maybe the Academics didn’t care. After all, they were the winners with a championship game in the offing next week at Rentschler field. That type of stuff makes the blood run hot.
But the chill carried a sting with it on the other side. The greatest season in school history was over and it was a cold, cold feeling. The end of the trail, the end of a dream, the end of a career always is.
It had been a brilliant run for Gilbert / Northwestern (9-3), a program signature 7-0 victory over Avon that turned playoff thoughts into reality, a convincing win over Housatonic Thanksgiving Day to earn a first ever appearance in the newly revamped Connecticut post-season.
Finally, a 41-6 pounding of Plainville in the opening game of the playoffs that brought thoughts of a trip to Rentschler Field and a spot in the Class M championship game into focus and the idea that the dream could become reality.
Then it was over, lost in a sea of missed opportunities and the fleet feet of a Hillhouse team that could only be denied so many times.
The red-rimmed eyes of G-N quarterback Bobby Lippincott told you the whole story. Lippincott is big at 6-foot-3, 205 lbs. but more importantly he is big time. The guy whose hands you want on the ball with the game on the line big time. The guy you want taking the last shot or throwing the last pass big time.
The G-N quarterback did his thing on this day on the grandest stage the school has danced on. He ran for 80 yards, his play-fakes had Hillhouse wondering all day. He unleashed a couple of sonic booms for punts one going 57 yards and dribbling out of bounds at the Hillhouse one-yard line and another one for 49 yards that went out at the nine-yard line.
He batted down a pass in the end zone and was a force on defense all day long. After the game Hillhouse coach Tom Dyer called Lippincott, “ a heck of a player.”
All of which meant less than didley-squat to Lippincott as he stood the slick carpet at Municipal. It never has been about him and it wasn’t on this day. He berated himself for failing to intercept the pass he had knocked down to prevent a touchdown. He lamented his team’s missed opportunities.
It was about an ending, a team’s ending. This was a team ride, the individual journey only a sliver of the bigger picture. It was about the team dream coming up one game short with no redo possible.
You really expect nothing less from an athlete of Lippincott’s caliber. There is never any way to prepare for the end. Oh, you know the calendar says it is coming but the feeling doesn’t arrive until the moment and then, unless you are hoisting a trophy, the emptiness sets in.
You stand there 15 minutes trying to soak in the disappointing finality of it all and a reporter is asking you how it feels. All you know is numbness and the awful cold that has you just wanting to get off the field and figure it all out.
Lippincott’s feeling was assuredly felt by his teammates particularly the seniors who wore that yellow and blue uniform proudly one last time Saturday. Devon Molway who used his 170-pound frame to rush for 110 yards and survived a ferocious hit in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Jones who was taken off on a stretcher and Drew McCarthy who scored a touchdown. Rugged linemen Charlie Shea and Robert Kitch along with receiver Sean Fitzgerald.
There are others and they all were part of the experience punctuated by the ending that wasn’t in their dreams.
Down the road, Lippincott and his teammates will add the journey to the ending. Right now the experience is the ending. That will change, time will assure that it does. As the days pass, the Yellowjackets will be able to put it all together.
They’ll revel in days at Van Why Field and that victory over Avon and pounding Plainville in the opening round at Torrington High School. They’ll remember how dreaming of a state title and playing in the `Big House’ at Rentschler Field was more reality than dream.
And hopefully they took a split second or more to turn around and look as the stands filled with from one end to the other with passion-fueled Highjackets (Highlanders and Yellowjackets).
This team turned on a town and they need to know that. For three weeks Gilbert / Northwestern has been front-page stuff and the town told them that with their numbers and deafening roars. Hillhouse was dwarfed in both regards Saturday.
And here’s another thought that may take for a long, long time to sink in and accept and for some maybe never. I don’t think G-N wins the game anyway. We’ll never know and the missed opportunities make you wonder – the fumble at the Hillhouse 25-yard line, the stalled drive at the one-yard line, the opening drive that came up empty.
I think when all was said and done, however, Hillhouse’s arsenal of weapons than included brilliant freshman running back Harold Cooper, sophomore quarterback Je’Vaughn Moore, senior running back Taurese Washington and wide receiver William Glover would have found a way.
The final score wouldn’t have been 42-14 but it was a varied attack that could bust one open in less time than it takes to think about blinking an eye, that the Yellowjackets faced and holding off a team like that that played the likes of Xavier, Cheshire and others would have been a monumental achievement.
Certainly the last thought is arguable but G-N will eventually turn its thinking to what Hillhouse was able to do not just what they were not able to do.
The stunning finality of a season ended rode home with Gilbert / Northwestern Saturday night. You would expect nothing less. Down the road, however, the ending will turn into just part of the story not the whole story and the conclusion will only be part of a marvelous journey, not the whole journey..
The last game doesn’t detract from the best season. The ending won’t change but thoughts of this season should bring nothing but smiles to a bunch of proud faces. What a ride it has been.