CEDAR RAPIDS — There was a state high school football playoff doubleheader at Kingston Stadium Wednesday night, and neither game was a classic.
So what? It was a lot of kids on four teams that hung together since late summer and won more games than they lost to get the chance to play postseason ball, and it clearly meant a lot to them. What wasn’t to like about that?
Cedar Falls outmuscled and outplayed Cedar Rapids Washington in the opener, winning 27-10. But the Warriors can always remember 2013 as a year in which they started the season 0-3, then won six weeks in a row and shared a conference division title.
“You guys made a lot of memories for a lot of people,” Washington Coach Paul James told his team after Wednesday’s game. “Especially yourselves.”
That constitutes a successful season, don’t you think?
In the second game of the evening, Cedar Rapids Kennedy played really well and downed Cedar Rapids Prairie, 42-14.
Kennedy’s lead was only 14-7 at halftime. Shortly before the second half began, Cougars senior running back Miles Moa stood alone in an end zone. He looked like he was just going to do some stretching, but suddenly took off and ran almost the length of the field.
“I wasn’t playing in the first half like I wanted,” Moa said. “Coach told me I needed to toughen up, that this could be the last game of my career. I came out and I was hungry.”
Moa rushed for 300 yards in Kennedy’s previous game. He is 5-foot-9, 180 pounds of fire and brimstone. He had 13 yards on his first carry after halftime, scored the Cougars’ first touchdown of the second half, added another, and finished with 25 carries for 124 yards.
Kennedy led 35-14 with 5:25 left in the game after Moa’s second TD, but the player yelled “Game’s not over! Game’s not over, dude! Game’s not over!” to every teammate within earshot.
Asked what makes him so passionate about playing, he said “A lot of people have always doubted me and it’s always been me proving people wrong my whole life.
“I’m just thankful for every day I get to come out and put on my pads and put on my helmet.”
So is senior Cougar Famiek Cook, a defensive back who seemingly could have burned holes in the field with his intense expressions. After Prairie completed a few passes for a third-quarter touchdown drive, Cook’s position coach laid into him about coming up too far in coverage three times on the drive.
Cook angrily headed back onto the field to be on the kickoff-return unit, and delivered a fierce block. Late in the game, he followed Kennedy’s Logan Daughetee stride for stride on Daughetee’s 80-yard interception return, and threw the last block to help his teammate finish off the return for a score.
“Right now, this means more to me than anything,” Cook said in a loud Kennedy dressing room afterward. “This is my family away from my real family. These are my brothers and I love ‘em to death.”
“Something we preach all the time,” Cougars Coach Tim Lewis said, “is love of the game and playing hard.”
Not far away from Lewis’ Cougars at that moment was Mike Morrissey’s quiet and sad Prairie team.
“Proud of them,” Morrissey said as his players were about to start their last bus ride of the season, back to their school. “Tough group. Real tough group.”
“It sucks,” said Prairie defensive back Kentrel Smith. “It hurts. But I love this team. I wouldn’t trade this team for anybody else.”
Later that night, Smith put this on Twitter: “The fact I won’t be playing with these guys anymore hurts like no other, my team means more to me than anyone could imagine and I mean that.”
No, the two games weren’t especially great. And yet, they really were.
This isn’t the slickest video ever shot, but the emotion is certainly here in this Kennedy touchdown pass and subsequent celebration:
Comments are closed.