For many years, ABC had a popular show entitled “The Wide World of Sports”. The opening scene of the production was a montage of athletes in action, some succeeding and some failing. As the background voiceover, you would hear the unmistakable voice of broadcasting legend Jim McKay intoning “the thrill of victory… the agony of defeat”.
Recently, the Pascagoula Panther football team has endured way too much of the latter. Here’s what has happened in the last three games:
- On September 21, lost to Harrison Central , the team tied for first place in the region, 26-24. The Panthers fell behind 19-0, then stormed back to almost pull the game out at the end.
- On September 28, lost 28-15 to Gulfport, the region’s other co-leader. This score is actually distorted, as with the Admirals leading 21-15 in possession of the ball with one second left, Pascagoula expected the Gulfport quarterback to take a knee to end the game. Instead, he grabbed the ball and ran in for an uncontested touchdown. Poor sportsmanship there—I’d put that in the old memory bank for future motivation.
- Then, last Friday night, lost 52-50 to D’Iberville in a thriller that will become an instant classic. PHS overcame adversity all night, led by running backs Montello Kirkland (261 yards) and Jacoryn Walker (144 yards).Finally, with about three minutes left in the game, PHS drove the ball 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, converting several huge plays along the way, including a fourth- and – three, and ultimately scoring with only 25 seconds left in the game. It’s over, right? Well, no—the Warriors completed a long Hail Mary pass, received a pass interference call, then scored on a wild dive into the end zone on the game’s last play. You talk about a painful aftermath for players, coaches and fans.
So, three weeks in a row, three coulda/woulda/shoulda games, and Pascagoula is 0-3 in the region. What this tells us is that the margin of victory and defeat is razor thin in closely competitive games. ‘Goula could easily be 3-0 in the region, but, instead, the opposite is true.
The good news is this: despite the excruciating setbacks, Pascagoula continues to put forth maximum effort. Coach Lewis Sims has a young team that will continue to get better this year and next. There has been a bit of a talent downswing for the Panthers the last couple of years, but Coach Sims is a master at leading young men in both good times and tough times.
So, as maddening as these past three games have been—and there will be more bumps and bruises along the way this year—Pascagoula players, coaches, and supporters need to realize that better days are ahead. Then, the proud Panther family will once again begin to experience “the thrill of victory”.
(Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].)