By Greta Klein
Many emotions were shown before, during and after the Hutchinson Community College football game against East Mississippi in the NJCAA semifinals.
Everything has to come to an end at some point. For the top-ranked Blue Dragons, it was 10 days too soon.
No. 4 East Mississippi defeated the Blue Dragons 27-23 Saturday afternoon at Gowans Stadium.
“It’s hard to lose any game,” said Blue Dragons coach Drew Dallas. “But, when you get close and you feel like you have opportunities and you don’t capitalize on them, it hurts even worse.”
Dallas said he understood what East Mississippi brought to the game while still having confidence in the Blue Dragons.
“We got beat by a good football team today too, and so just got to hold our heads up high,” Dallas said. “I mean, they’ve accomplished so much in their time here and I’m proud of them.”
As Hutch took the field in the third quarter, trailing 14-13, the Blue Dragons outscored the Lions 10-6 and led 23-20.
Even with their efforts, the Lions scored again in the fourth quarter with less than a minute left, putting more stress on the Blue Dragons.
Despite the loss, both the Blue Dragons coaches and players are proud of what this season has led to.
“I’m proud of this team because it was (the) young kids that came in,” defensive back Jakari Foster said. “They did great this year (and) we didn’t have that last year. Most people weren’t (as) focused as they are this year, so I’m very proud of this team. They’ve grown up a lot, and next year they’ll probably get back to that manner.”
Although there were tough times during the season, Dallas believed in his team and players throughout the season.
“They’ve done a lot of things with the target on their back,” Dallas said. (I’m) just proud (of) how they always competed, and came to work every day. The ending wasn’t what we wanted, but that’s part of life and that’s part of football.”
No matter what, this team has each other’s backs and will always have that bond together.
“I’m excited to see what their future holds because I think they all have. It’s a very bright future, whether it’s here at Hutch for another season or elsewhere. They’re going to be successful in life and we’re happy that we played a part in it.”