10 points from First Place. That's where the Frontier Falcons Varsity Football team stands if you bother to look at stats instead of only the win-loss column. All three losses have ended in the red zone. Two of the games, vs Clarence and OP, ended with Frontier in control of the ball floating pass after pass into the end zone as time ran out. If the passes had stuck to their targets, Frontier would be sitting pretty in 2nd place right now. Absolutely heartbreaking finishes for this fine Frontier Varsity team who have longed for a trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Mistakes have cost this team. It was obvious Frontier wasn't ready to handle Clarence's option offense. Frontier made adjustments but maybe a bit too late. Meanwhile the Red Devil's defense picked up momentum and kept Frontier from scoring on their final game-ending drive. Jamestown was a stunning defeat for Frontier. The Falcons defense appeared unprepared while perhaps realizing they underestimated the potency of this southerntier team. The Falcons offense put up points but a team effort of mistakes kept the scoreboard in Jamestown's favor. This last game, Frontier's homecoming, against Orchard Park was amazing as far as excitement levels go. Orchard Park actually struggled and made several of their own mistakes. Frontier took advantage and held OP to 14 points. The Falcons defense was outstanding and deserves much praise for their efforts. The Falcons offense performed well. The O-line gave their QB lots of time to play the ball and scored 12 points against the Quakers dominating defense. Mistakes and missed extra points forced Frontier to battle it out to the end. And yet again, ticking away the final seconds, Frontier was denied the big W that could have propelled this team into newfound glory and the playoffs.
"It doesn't matter who wins, its how you play the game" is only a cliché. Its context is solely meant to inspire good sportsmanship between contenders. It is far overused as a tool to appease losers. Potential and what-ifs don't put the numbers on the board. That final W is what matters the most in record books. In the end, who cares how you played the game. Sportsmanship is personal and doesn't have a rating like that great tally mark in the W column. To my chagrin, I did not realize the playoff implications this game had when I offered my congratulations to Coach Gray for a well played game against Orchard Park. His downtrodden response was, "But we didn't win." These boys worked hard and I wanted to feel good for them, but I knew Coach Gray was right... this team may have blown their chance to prove themselves worthy of a title.
Update as of this Saturday morning: Frontier is out of the playoffs. I cried. I adore these boys and my heart goes out to them, especially the seniors, who with so many years of expectation anticipated a dominating final season. My personal note to them: Keep in mind that the last 2 games matter. They matter to you as a team and to your self-respect. Go out there and play your final games like the extraordinary team you are.