|Junior Levi Branch (22) carries the ball as he and senior Chris Hatch (33) watch the oncoming North Sanpete defense.|
It's hard to put ones finger on what makes the difference between a football team that wins and one that loses. Enthusiam, hard work, a positive outlook, can be present in both types of teams. So can talent.
Carbon High finished it's varsity football season with a loss to North Sanpete in the Dinostadium on Friday night, with the Hawks registering a 61-0 win over the home team. Yet somehow, despite a big loss at the end of a season in which there were only a few moral victories, the team still had smiles on their faces at the end. In fact the team was having a lot of fun just playing.
All season long, Coach Lane Herrick has been positive about his team, despite the record. And that didn't change when he talked about the group that had just finished the season after the game.
"I really appreciate these kids who were on the team this year," he said on Monday morning. "They worked hard. You know winning is fun, but when you give everything you've got like they did, it still is safisfying."
For the 2004 version of the Carbon football team, that satisfaction will go a long way to alleviating the painful losses this year and for the seniors a final game in which they had spurts of greatness.
For the first seven and a half minutes of the game, Carbon progressed the ball down field, but couldn't quite get a score. On the other hand, Carbon's defense, at the same time, also held North Sanpete scoreless as well.
But with 5:16 left in the first quarter the Hawks took it over the line and added the extra point. From then on they treated touchdowns like that famous brand of potato chips; they couldn't just take one.
They scored again after a Carbon fumble with 4:55 left. Then they make a 35 yard pass with 42 seconds left, but missed the extra point.
So at the end of the first period the Hawks were up 20-0 and some of the Sanpete players could be heard on the sidelines wondering out loud if they could win it 80-0.
The trend continued in the second quarter as North Sanpete scored again at 10:10 (they tried to run the extra point but didn't make it), at 7:25 on a 40 yard run, then Carbon fumbled at 5:37 and the Hawks scored on the next play with a run, making the score 41-0 at halftime.
When Carbon went into the locker room, their faces were a bit long, but when they came out they had smiles on them again.
The coaches reminded the team they still had half a game to play and about all the things they had done right.
In the third quarter North Sanpete only scored two touchdowns, one at 10:25 and the other at 6:44, not only because Carbon defense began to figure out their running game, but also because the offense held onto the ball while they had it in their possession. It was a vast improvement over the first half where the Dinos lost it four times, three times to fumbles and once to an interception.
While no one was under any illusion that the team could come back completely in the fourth quarter, the more controlled third quarter did give some hope and Carbon's defense proved that hope as they only allowed the Hawks to score one touchdown at 11:51 and they blocked the extra point.
But the defense even showed more spark when sophomore Marcus Zaccaria intercepted the ball at 5:15 shutting down a promising North Sanpete drive for the goal line.
The game ended with no more scoring, but as the Dinos walked off the field they knew that the future would be much brighter. With only a few seniors on a heavily laden sophomore team, as a group they learned a lot this year, and with that experience will come a better football record next year and the year after that.
"I just want to say that the seniors on this team were special kids," stated Herrick. "They showed a lot of leadership through the adversity we faced and that, along with the hard work from the lower classmen is what brought us through the year."
As for Herrick, he says he is going to keep working on football for a awhile, in fact with all athletes at the school by instituting a new weight lifting program.
"I am looking forward to that," he said and then added. "And to our football team in the coming years."