One year ago, the St. Francis High School football team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Canisius High School in the Monsignor Martin semifinals: 62-19.
That loss, although devastating, only fueled the team’s determination to defeat their longtime rivals and become the next team to take home the championship.
This year was a brand new season and it was clear that St. Francis was playing to take it all.
After enduring another defeat from Canisius earlier in the season, St. Francis took a win from Bishop Timon in the semifinals and went on to taste a hard-earned victory against Canisius on Nov. 19 in the championship.
Due to a shaky start, St. Francis’ players found themselves trailing 7-0, but quickly regained their footing and came back to finish the first half with a lead of 26-7.
The Red Raiders’ defense was proven unshakable and the offense was practically unstoppable. By the end of the game, St. Francis had pulled off a 42-7 win.
Brandon Metz, a senior running back and one of the team’s three captains said, “It feels amazing (to win). This school hasn’t won it since 2011 and we had the team to do it. We just had to believe.”
St. Francis’ sheer motivation was clearly present within the team as a whole. Every single player was determined to win, and that one factor led to outstanding teamwork and a remarkable win.
“Our team came together as a family,” said senior Johnathon Strawbrich, offensive right tackle and another of the team’s captains.
“It isn’t just one person who crosses the goal line. It’s the whole team, from the scout teams in practice to the starters leading the charge in the game.”
If the win itself was not enough to convince us of the hard work and mental toughness that St. Francis has put in and developed this season, their excitement over their victory was. With just minutes left in the fourth quarter, the team dumped their water cooler onto the head coach, Jerry Smith. Their excitement only intensified and when the game was over, the team ran over to the fans, some even jumping over the railing and into the crowd forming at the bottom of the stands.
The team was so excited, in fact, that they were almost as loud as the fans were. There were some players yelling in triumph, some crying for joy, and others screaming to their families to take pictures.
St. Francis always seems to be underrated, but after this win, no one can deny that this football team has an overwhelming amount of heart, drive and skill.
Sarah Kazmierczak is a senior at Frederick Law Olmsted School.