Russellville loss stuns players, fans

By Staff
Scot Beard
TUSCALOOSA — It was a long drive to Russellville from Tuscaloosa for the convoy of cars heading north on Alabama 13 Thursday night.
Instead of rejoicing a state football championship for Russellville High School, the occupants of the vehicles thought about the elusive title that slipped away for at least another year.
Russellville, which had what many consider one of the most talented teams in school history, lived up to preseason expectations by reaching the state championship game for the second year in a row.
Unfortunately for the Golden Tigers, their opponent had an unstoppable running back that helped propel his team to the title.
The scene on the field following the game was a sharp contrast to the reaction of players after last year’s loss to Vigor in the title game.
Last season most of the players — even reserves who did not see a minute of playing time that season — broke down in tears as final seconds ticked away in the 50-30 loss.
This year there were a few players whose emotions opened up the tears, but the vast majority seemed stunned.
Darrian Graham sat alone on the bench, head bent and hands on the side of his helmet.
Casey Herring squatted on the field and watched with disbelief as Demopolis accepted the championship trophy Russellville has played for five times this decade — with the Golden Tigers walking away as runner-up each time.
The mood in the post-game press conference was not much better. Seniors Ryan Romans, Jacob Gist and Joey Howe along with junior Brent Calloway stared blankly at reporters.
Even the fans took this loss hard.
About 45 minutes after the game ended, there were still fans outside Bryant-Denny Stadium with fresh tears rolling as they contemplated the championship that got away yet again.
This was a tough loss for the Golden Tiger fan base to take, as players and fans believed this would be the year Russellville would see its 41-year title drought end.
It was a sad end to a promising season, and players and fans will need some time to reflect on this one. Eventually their focus will shift to next season.
At football-crazy Russellville, the promise of what might be always seems to be bigger than the thought of what might have been.