Raiders ponder one that got away

Nov. 19, 2012 @ 08:43 PM

There was plenty of anger, plenty of tears, and plenty of shock to go around while the T.W. Andrews football players and coaches tried to cope with what had just happened in the moments following Friday’s 36-35 loss to Salisbury in the 2AA West Regional semifinals at Simeon Stadium.

It might take a while for those feelings to go away. The Red Raiders were in full control of the game for three quarters, leading 21-0 in the first quarter and 35-14 after three. But just a tidal wave of good plays, lucky plays — whatever you call them to wrap your head around them — by the Hornets washed over them in the final quarter.

There were countless what-if plays that could’ve gone their way — like a 34-yard field goal try that missed off the crossbar, a fourth-and-1 run stopped just short, or onsides kicks they couldn’t recover — but didn’t. And the season that began Aug. 17 in a loss to High Point Central ended 12 weeks later with its only other loss of the year.

"I don’t have words for it,” junior running back Marquell Cartwright said disappointedly. “It’s a defeat. It’s life. We’re just going to have to go with it.”

Looking back on it, though, this season was a huge step forward from last year. Last year was the Red Raiders’ best start in decades but netted only a third-place finish in the PAC-6 2A and a first-round loss at Reidsville. 

This year, Andrews continued to improve each week, building to its first conference title since 2008. It earned its first No. 1 seed in decades and, with its 11th straight win, reached the third round for the first time since 2005.

Even though it ended in heartbreak, this season was still a season of positives for the Red Raiders. And it’s an experience, like last year, that those returning — which include a number of standouts — look to improve upon.

“It was a good season,” Cartwright said. “We went far, we played together really well. We won the conference championship and did a little better, making it to the third round. I wish we could’ve gone to states, but that’s life.
“I’m ready for next season. I’m going to prepare all offseason, and you’re going to see us back here soon.”