Storybook endings aren’t what you hoped for.

Storybook endings aren’t what you hoped for.

Everyone loves an underdog.  Maud’s Tigers can fill that roll pretty easily. The small school plays 8-man football and has enjoyed a lot of success recently, including a deep run in the playoffs last year.

But in smaller schools, the ups and downs happen more quickly. This year, Maud has about 13 players ready to compete on the gridiron. For various reasons, they only had 11 wearing the black on black Tiger home uniforms Friday night.

Now imagine the story when a team with only 11 players overcomes bad breaks and questionable calls to come back and win in the final seconds.

That didn’t happen, but it almost did.

But don’t be disappointed for the Tigers. They won Friday night even though the scoreboard put Wilson in the win column.

The Eagles jumped out to a 20-8 lead. The Tigers had lost two weeks in a row and they could have surrendered to the inevitable Friday night.

That wasn’t the case.

Bryce Reid scored on a nice run, but referees saw a penalty on the play and pushed Maud back. They lost a chance to close the lead.

Later, after sliding quarterback Braylen Brewer out to a receiver spot; the new signal caller Bryxton Sanders hit him on a long touchdown pass. Once again, an illegal block turned a touchdown celebration into disappointment.

Then after halftime, Wilson scored an easy touchdown and the Tigers trailed 26-8. Nothing was going their way. You know they were getting tired. Playing every play, bumps and bruises come faster and the pain and fatigue could have made it easy to look forward to next week.

Instead, the Tigers fought back. Brewer found Reid for a long touchdown pass. Then, in the fourth quarter – when they should have been running out of gas – Reid broke tackles and fought his way back into the end zone to cut the lead to 26-20.

Another score would tie the game. An extra point conversion would win it.

Instead, Wilson broke a long touchdown run to put the game away.

Maud continued to fight until the final seconds ticked off the clock, but the storybook ending wasn’t meant to be.

But this isn’t all bad news. This is why I love covering high school sports.

These young men found something inside themselves that they will be able to use the rest of the year in district play. They can also use that same effort and drive in the classroom, in college, in their future jobs.

They learned to face adversity and keep fighting. Guess what, things don’t always go your way.

We all face bad breaks and bad calls in life. Most people find it far too easy to resign themselves to failure. They give up.

First year coach Brant Hayes joined this program just before the season. His team doesn’t even have enough players to scrimmage each other in practice. Some kids complain about being relegated to their team’s practice squad. Maud would love to have a practice squad.

But Hayes didn’t use his late arrival to the program or lack of players as an excuse. He and the other coaches become tackling dummies and take a spot on the practice team themselves.

Hayes is teaching offense, defense, special teams and life to these young men.

The scoreboard said they lost 34-20 Friday night. But they won a game that the scoreboard can’t measure.

These Tigers know what it means to face adversity and fight through. They learned that everything doesn’t always go your way, but hard work can give you a chance to overcome your circumstances.

They learned Friday night that you don’t always win just because you work hard.

But when there were only a few minutes left on the clock and they were only six points down, they learned that hard work and perseverance puts you in a position to win.

This wasn’t their week, but the lessons they learned Friday will no doubt help them get through practice on Monday and have more success in their district games that start this week and hopefully the rest of their lives.