Friday night in the Los Angeles area, the Grant Pacers took the field hoping to bring the Sacramento region back-to-back state championships.
It was set up like a movie. The Pacers' veteran quarterback went down with an injury, and a freshman was called up with a chance to lead the team to victory. But the La Serna Lancers played the spoiler, defeating Grant 21-19.
Grant senior wide receiver Kingston Lopa had some words for freshman Shiren Crump, Jr.
"The number one thing our coach said from the minute he got up -- because he was on jv -- but when he first got up, he said, 'You never know when your number is called,' " Lopa said.
After Luke Alexander was ruled out of the second half after a hit to the head, the QB duties fell to Crump to lead. He faced off against a suffocating La Serna defense, and Grant leaned on their leaders – two Division I running backs and a veteran offensive line.
"We played probably the best game we could today," Lopa said. "We left it all on the field, man."
The Pacers got within a shoestring tackle of tying the game with two minutes left to play.
"They fought to the end," Grant head coach Carl Reed said. "Nobody wanted to be out. Nobody wanted to be done. An inch."
There is no title, no storybook ending, but there is a silver lining here.
"We're not going nowhere. We're here. We're back," Reed said. We're planning – our goal is to make appearances back here."
Grant returns plenty of talent next year and Reed says they'll be back. But even in a loss, Grant football's resurgence is the story of the year. The Pacers are back and they don't appear to be leaving anytime soon.
for more features.