Wonderful year for the Spartans

Talent, hard work and good coaching paid off for the gridders of St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Enough time has passed since St. Joseph-Ogden's overtime loss last week in the Class 3A state championship to take some of the sting of disappointment away.

Now players, coaches, family members, friends and regular St. Joe football fans can step back and appreciate just how special the season was. It was an all-timer.

Those who dwell on the disappointing ending — the failure to make a two-point conversion in a 43-41 loss to an excellent Stillman Valley team — do themselves a disservice. A great season consists of the journey, not just the destination.

Sure, it was great to get to the championship game, and it would have been even better to win. But the thrills, spills and chills along the way make up the total experience — for players, coaches and fans.

Wasn't St. Joe's season just great? Wouldn't players, coaches and fans from other schools have loved to be in St. Joe's place? Spartan fans ought to keep that in mind when their thoughts turn to what might have been.

It's no secret that, year in and year out, SJO is one of the top programs statewide in its class. A big reason is head coach Dick Duval, who has taken five teams into championship games. His frustration at having lost all five is understandable, but what was so impressive is how he handled his disappointment.

Duval could have complained about the opposition's winning touchdown, where TV replays showed the ball being fumbled before it crossed the goal line. His reaction: "It was a judgment call. Everyone makes mistakes, but the ball sure looked out. There's not much we can do about it."

Duval's fine example is just one reason the entire St. Joseph-Ogden community can take pride in its school's football team. Mostly though, it's the players who deserve the plaudits; they proved once again that you don't have to be champions to be winners.

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