The Hamburg Lions lost the game and several players to injuries on Friday night, but their coach said he is proud to say his players never gave up.
On Friday Hamburg hosted the DeWitt Bobcats, and after being down by more than 20 at one point in the game, they fought their way back to a 50-42 final.
Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said that even though he hates to lose, he count not be any more proud of the heart and determination his team showed in the midst of overwhelming adversity.
“I will go to the grave knowing our boys gave everything they had on Friday night and I am so thankful for that,” Cossey said.
The Lions went into the game without Connor Jones, who went down in the Fairview game, and during the game they lost DJ Johnson on the first drive and Armod Taylor in the second half.
“In my 15 years of coaching, I never remember losing our top three running backs all at once for the game and maybe even the season,” Cossey said.
The injuries brought several players off the bench and Cossey said he was proud of the way Jamal Brewer and Gavin Harrod did coming off the bench.
He also credited quarterback Brett Rice with making sure they knew where to be and when to be there.
“Wide receivers, Nick McNeil. Nick Bridges and Hunter Edwards really picked up the slack in the second half by making a lot of big plays,” Cossey said.
On the very first drive of the game, Nick McNeil intercepted the ball, giving the Lions the ball in their own territory on the 41 yard line.
The Lions couldn’t move the ball and Jesus Aguilar came out to punt for Hamburg, giving the Bobcats the ball midfield.
DeWitt was able to score and add on a two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 with less than five minutes to play in the first quarter.
Armod Taylor and Jamal Brewer took turns rushing the ball until Taylor finally ran it into the end zone. Aguilar kicked the extra point and the Lions trailed 8-7.
Dewitt answered with a 65 yard touchdown and another two point conversion to make the score 16-7.
The Lions started a new drive as the clock rolled into the second quarter, but they weren’t able to score.
They punted to Dewitt, who started a drive on their own 17 yard line. Hamburg forced them to punt and started another drive midfield.
A few short runs by Nick McNeil and Taylor set Brewer up to score.
Aguilar kicked the extra point and the score was 16-14 with two minutes to go until the half.
Dewitt scored again before the half time buzzer, making the score 22-14 and the game was downhill from there for the Lions.
The Lions never gave up. Early in the fourth quarter the score was 50-28 with the Lions down by 22. The Lions fought their way back. Gavin Harrod ran it in the end zone and Brett Rice completed a pass to McNeil.
“The teamwork and pride in how our players responded only makes the loss hurt more,” Cossey said. “Especially with the way we had the onside kick and fumble literally taken away from us when we had clawed back to 50-42.
The Lions will now move on to face Monticello on Friday and Cossey said to win the Lions must learn from their mistakes and have a next man up attitude.
“We will absolutely get Monticello’s best effort this week and they are a much improved teamwho played a tough Star City team close,” Cossey said.
“And if we plan on reaching our goals as a team, this game against Monticello is a must win for us.”