This past weekend I was able to once again experience the highs and the lows of the IHSA state playoffs.
The highs? That's easy. The winning teams are the one's celebrating and making plans for another week of football. The winning side talks to the media, poses for the cameras and knows that they just survived the IHSA's yearly version of Survivor/DeKalb.
Yet you will seldom see much coverage for the other side. TV cameras and reporters alike have deadlines to meet. No time for the other side. Yet I always make sure to take in the other side, because for me it's a part of the playoff story that is seldom told yet is also one of the best stories of this or really any state playoffs.
I made sure to take in the other side on Saturday night as Kaneland saw it's season end at the hands of Joliet Catholic 45-8.
It wasn't expected to end like this for the Kaneland Knights.
Kaneland went into this highly anticipated Class 5A showdown with state power Joliet Catholic feeling with a real chance and left Joliet Memorial Stadium with it's season completed.
This was a pretty special group of seniors from Kaneland in 2013. Many of the core starters had been three year varsity starters, who played in many big games over the years. The overall anticipation for the 2013 Knights was pretty high in and around the greater Maple Park area and beyond.
Kaneland just saw it's season ended. In many, many cases several of the seniors just played their last football game. Ever.
The emotions run rampant on the other side and it seems like every kid reacts differently. Some will race off the field after the post-game talk from the head coach, a talk that is always high on emotions and light on actual words that those same kids will most likely never remember.
Others will mill around, looking sort of lost and taking it all in one last time. Others just sat on the field and took it all in. Others took off their helmets, while others wouldn't take that helmet off no matter what, trying to hide the tears, the pain and sadness that just hit them moments ago.
It's easily one of the saddest times for the kids and the families.
I thought about the kids I've covered like Kaneland QB Drew David. David, who should go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Kaneland history, saw his outstanding high school career end on the sidelines in pain after suffering a broken rib in the loss midway through the first half. Yet, like so many other seniors, David as late as last Wednesday told me he really wasn't sure if he'd get the chance to play at the college level. When your a quarterback and not 6-foot-4 and built like a Jay Cutler, your college options are very limited no matter how many yards and touchdowns you've thrown over the past three years.
That's always the other side's reality if you will.
A few other Knights will get a chance to play next season on Saturday's while most will not. Yet at that moment none of the college stuff mattered.
The season was done. The high school career is now completed for the seniors.
The pain of the loss of the season and even the playing career will fade away, hopefully replaced with the good memories.
Yet over the remaining three weeks of IHSA football playoffs, no one wants to be apart of the other side.
And that drama starts all over this weekend.