The ridicule was short-lived Friday as Grovetown High School senior football players assembled under the scoreboard to pose for a picture with coach Rodney Holder.
Someone had made a crack about a teammate's tears, but soon most of the group had surrendered to the magnitude of the moment.
Minutes before, the Warriors had completed their inaugural season with a thrilling 34-33 home victory over Mount Paran Christian.
Grovetown's defense guaranteed the school's first team a winning record when it stuffed a late Eagles' two-point conversion attempt.
What followed were a few kneel-downs from Grovetown's offense to run out the clock and a failed attempt to shower Holder with ice.
The Warriors (6-4) did not play a region schedule and were not eligible for the Class AAAA playoffs.
The first-year head coach said the team's finish was like a movie script. Grovetown's final defensive play provided the appropriate drama.
Mount Paran marched down the field and scored with 1:11 remaining on a bruising, 7-yard run from fullback David Ian. The Eagles then lined up for the two-point conversion and victory on the road.
Grovetown senior linebacker Dominique Mingo said he heard an official say No. 44, Ian, "is killing y'all. If y'all can't stop him, y'all ain't going to win."
"I heard the crowd and I heard they were behind us," Mingo said. "I was thinking to myself, 'We're not losing this game.' If I broke all my limbs, I would have made sure we didn't lose this game."
Ian took the handoff from the 2-yard line and bulled his way into the line. Grovetown senior lineman Marvon Danzie said he was doubled-teamed, and he dropped to the ground to form a pile at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Chris McElhaney made the initial hit on Ian, and the rest of the Warriors defense swarmed to hold him up until the play was blown dead.
The Warriors recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the remaining time.
Throughout the three weeks of preparation for Mount Paran, Holder had told his captains to remind their teammates that Friday's game was for a winning record and a place in history.
After facing an early 13-0 deficit, Grovetown's spark in the second quarter was sophomore Myles McDavid, who entered at quarterback and moved the Warriors down the field with three runs for 30 yards and ran the option with senior Seth Hill. Hill's 15-yard run off left tackle pulled the Warriors within 13-7 and salvaged some momentum headed into the half.
The running back scored four times during his final game and finished with 245 yards on the ground. Senior receiver Antonio Beavers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 7-yard reception from McDavid in the fourth quarter.
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