The clock struck triple zeros. Parents were crying. Players and coaches were sharing warm embraces. The Blue Crew was going crazy, and school spirit was at an all-time high. On December 19, 2012, the football team brought home the school’s first ever state championship.
“That was an incredible moment,” senior cornerback William Sanders said. “It was unbelievable. I didn’t think we would get to that point. It was a fairy tale.”
But the team isn’t just satisfied with only one. They plan on going back to back.
“I think we are further along and better than we were last year,” Sanders said. “We got a lot of chemistry and we are focused on getting back to state.”
Things haven’t gone according to plan and have not been easy. Over Labor Day the entire moral of the team changed with the tragic death of beloved Nathan Maki.
“Nate was such a lovable guy,” said senior quarterback Jerrod Heard. “Nate talked to everybody and was loved by everybody. He was a great friendly person and everybody on the team knew him. It was hard to have to say goodbye to such a great person so soon.”
The team’s next game was against Colleyville Heritage. Emotions ran high as the football team commemorated Maki’s legacy.
“That was a very emotional moment for everybody,” Sanders said. “Tears were being shed as we took Nate’s jersey as an honorary captain. That moment meant a lot to his family, the team and the community. We were all just playing for Nate.”
The football team smashed Colleyville Heritage 35-14, but UIL counted the game as a loss because kicker Kolos Urbanyi was ruled ineligible because he is a foreign exchange student.
“We know we won,” sophomore defensive end Dharius Timmons said. “Even though UIL counts that game as a loss on our schedule, we know we won and it is not that big of a deal. That game was about way more than just football.”
Coach Walsh is proud of his team for the way they have been able to maintain focus through tremendous amounts of adversity.
“I think our team has a good focus year in and year out,” he said. “I think that with Nathan’s loss, they understand even more now that tomorrow is not a given, and you have to take care of today.”
Walsh feels that the team is a closer knit group because of the tragedy.
“I’m so proud of the team’s resiliency and ability to cope with whatever is given,” he said. “I think sometimes when you have adversity it makes you stronger. The good football programs and the good families grow from adversity. That’s what we did.”
The team is taking it day by day and game by game.
“We have to work even harder,” said sophomore linebacker Mike Carrillo. “We try to prove each week and every day in practice why we are the best team in the state.”
Even amongst all of the pressures the team has faced so far this season, they still have a strong love for the game.
“Football is all about having fun,” Timmons said. “Anytime you get to play with your brothers and create a strong bond with other men, it is always a success.”
Looking ahead, the 6-1 (but officially 5-2 in the UIL’s eyes) Wildcats know that the community anticipates another state championship.
“We know everybody expects us to go to state,” Timmons said. “We just hope to do our thing and fulfill everybody’s expectations.”
JOSHUA JORDAN is a senior at Guyer High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” program for student journalists.