Tim Cronin: For Crete-Monee football, tough way to end season041309 studio
Tim Cronin sports columnist southtownstar (Carol Dorsett Southtownstar newspapers)
Updated: November 8, 2011 7:41PM
The last loss always is the toughest one. Getting eliminated in knockout competition creates a fog in the minds of many who have suffered the defeat. Brilliant triumphs in the regular season, or earlier in the playoffs, suddenly mean nothing.
Never mind all the success beforehand. The focus is on the moment, the ugly scar on the scoreboard and the unrealized opportunity. The chance to advance has been taken away, either in the last minute or throughout the course of 48.
It was the latter course of action invoked Saturday at Enders Field on the north side of Peoria, where Richwoods, with an unrelenting offense and a strong defense when it mattered, administered a 55-39 trouncing of Crete-Monee.
It could have been worse — it was 21-0 with a breath left in the first quarter and 44-6 with 3:51 left in the third — but the Warriors rallied to make the score closer, if not respectable.
When you entered the game undefeated, losing in the chill of November really hurts. Wasn’t this supposed to be the year?
That’s why various Warriors were strewn about the north end zone after Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde finished his short postgame talk. The season so many thought wouldn’t end until a parade back to the school after a championship game victory on the Saturday after Thanksgiving was instead over, done, kaput, finished by a defense that yielded all those points, 331 yards, and an offense that turned the ball over three times.
Nice rally, but when it commences with Richwoods two points from activating the running clock, it’s too late.
“It could have been really uglier than it was,” Verde said. “It’s unfortunate that it ends now and ends here, but we got beat by a better team.”
Last year, the Warriors’ season ended one week later, in a quarterfinal drubbing at Danville. But with an .809 batting average following the 0-3 start to the 2008 season, Verde expected more.
“We continue to take the program into uncharted territory,” he said. “The problem is, we’re still not reaching where we need to go. Obviously the future’s bright. That’s very little consolation for the seniors right now.”
As he spoke, quarterback Marcus Terrell and receivers LaQuan Treadwell and Lance Lenoir trudged off the field. After a start at which Richwoods defenders shadowed their every move, Terrell began to connect, and Treadwell and Lenoir were largely the connection. Terrell was 30-of-49 passing. He threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, two by Treadwell, one by Lenoir. Treadwell, who may turn into Larry Fitzgerald or Wes Welker when he grows up, had 13 receptions for 157 yards. Lenoir caught seven balls for 109 yards.
“It doesn’t make me forget (the loss),” Treadwell said of the rally, “but it shows me anybody can lose on any given day. We’ve got to come back next year and try again.”
Here’s the good news for the Warriors. That will happen. The Crete-Monee Flying Circus will return in 2012, because Terrell, Treadwell and Lenoir are juniors. And now, they’ll have this bitter memory of what was and the empty feeling of what might have been, to use as offseason fuel for improvement.
Eventually, and sooner than most think, the 10 wins Crete-Monee authored this season will be fondly remembered by those who created them, and far more than the one loss. And Treadwell and Terrell, along with Lenoir and 27 other underclassmen, will be back, the fog having lifted, looking forward to the heat of practice in mid-August and a chance to play long enough to have their Thanksgiving dinners disrupted by one last walk-through.
But for the next three weekends, Saturday morning will come around, and everyone who wears Warrior colors will look out the window and say, “We should have been playing today.”