Sports

TIMEOUT with Joe Flanagan

Cards not defined by final loss

Ouch.
There are no two ways about it, Boone Central/Newman Grove had a rough day in the Class C1 state championship football game last Tuesday.
And it hurts.
Darn right, it hurts.
Players hurt. Coaches hurt. Even family and fans hurt.
That’s okay. It signifies the magnitude of the goal. It shows that striving to reach it, with every ounce of effort, was worth the toil. Worth the hard work and sweat. Worth a little blood, and some tears.
Yes, this was “only” a sporting event. And, yes, the sun came up the next morning, life has gone on.
This was also, however, one of the lessons athletics can teach about life. If you want the best, if you want to reach the pinnacles in your professional and personal lives, it takes diligence, hard work and effort. Rewards, especially the highest, aren’t given, they’re earned.
And there’s a further lesson, as well. What ultimately defines you isn’t necessarily the final result. It’s the entire journey – your approach, the process, your experiences, and how you handle them.
The Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals can’t be defined by 0-35. That is only a sliver of 13 games, concluding a long, emotional, grueling trek to Lincoln.
BC/NG must also be defined by 42-20, a season-opening victory over Pierce; 42-0, a whitewash of defending C1 state champion O’Neill; 43-15, a dominant road win over always-pesky Ord; 36-19, the district championship clincher at Scotus; 40-3, 19-9, 42-25, the playoff victory run to the title game. Even 30-34 and 35-48, scores of early-season losses to Wayne and Norfolk Catholic that spurred the Cardinals to work even harder, play even better – to reel off eight straight Ws in reaching the championship final.
Ten victories. A berth in the 2017 title game. Number two in Class C1. A great season.
There were too many accomplishments to call this anything but a great season. Too many highlights, too many superlatives.
There’s no shame in ultimately falling to a better team. There, I said it. Grudgingly, as a Cardinal fan. It’s only right to give this Norfolk Catholic team it’s due (yes, that hurts a bit too). The Knights proved, without doubt, that they are Class C1’s best in 2017.
Catholic defeated Boone Central/Newman Grove twice. The Knights handed Wahoo its only loss of the regular season, then beat the Warriors again in the playoff semifinals. Catholic gave West Point-Beemer its only loss of the regular season, blanked playoff qualifier Wayne, was one of just two teams to defeat Lakeview, dispatched playoff qualifiers Pierce and Bishop Neumann. The Knights outscored Wahoo and BC/NG 49-0 in the semifinal and championship games.
That is dominance.
So, a tip of the cap to an old Mid-State rival. It’s deserved.
Remember, also, that just reaching Lincoln is no minor feat in itself. Boone Central/Newman Grove made its fifth appearance Tuesday – all since 2001. Any time you reach a state final, it’s cause for celebration and appreciation.
The Cardinal program has won a pair of titles. In one of those crazy twists of sport, when the Cards have faced someone other than Norfolk Catholic in the final, they have defeated Pierce and Ashland-Greenwood, toting home championship trophies. Unfortunately, they are now 0-3 against the Knights in Lincoln.
Hopefully, there will be more opportunities in the future. Someday, someway, somehow, finding a way to defeat Catholic in that final game.
But, for now, Boone Central/Newman Grove players and coaches also deserve a tip of the cap, from all of Cardinal Nation.
The final 2017 result will hurt for awhile, but the sting will fade with time. Let the memories then reflect the truth …
Great season. Great team.