'They can't take this away'

'They can't take this away'

DeKALB — Full-blown press conferences are the exception rather than the norm in high school football. That's especially true among smaller schools.

But every team that qualifies for Illinois' state finals — held this year at Northern Illinois' Huskie Stadium — gets the celebrity treatment after their respective games. Win or lose.

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley brought a coach and six players to Friday's press event after the Falcons posted a 38-32 win over Maroa-Forsyth in the Class 2A championship game. And the reigning theme among them was extreme happiness.

Smiling. Giggling. Poking fun at one another. This small segment of GCMS' first-ever state champion in any sport was enjoying the moment.

Junior Jared Trantina responded to a question about his running efforts in a very succinct manner. It elicited laughter from his teammates and a comment from his coach.

"See Jared run," coach Mike Allen said to more chuckles.

Senior Luke Freehill began to turn red mid-quote as he muttered under his breath, "I'm not very good at this."

More laughter.

Allen turned to senior Mitch McNutt at one point and asked the Falcons' ground-game leader if he was the strongest player on the team. McNutt shrugged, so Allen went ahead and gave him the title anyway to much guffawing.

Yes, this was GCMS' moment in the sun. And Allen made sure his players knew they could always turn back to it.

"People can take your house or car away from you," he said, "but they can't take this away from us."

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Allen made a point earlier this week of wanting to make up for what he perceived as a transgression back in the day.

In 2009, Falcon supporters packed the downtown area to greet the arriving GCMS buses after the team's Class 2A semifinal loss to Morrison.

The Falcons stayed on their buses as adoring fans showed appreciation for a two-loss season. Some wouldn't think much of that maneuver. Allen is not some people, though.

"My biggest regret was not making those kids get off the bus and thank everyone," Allen said. "(This year) we're going to walk around town and thank everyone."

No doubt his athletes were glad to hobnob with their rooters after Friday's 38-32 state title win over Maroa-Forsyth.

A reception is planned for 10:30 a.m. today at GCMS Middle School.

"People are going to be excited and proud of these kids either way," Allen said. "The way they handle themselves in the community, people are going to be appreciative."

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