At first, Mainland coach Scott Wilson wasn’t quite sure how to console his team.
Minutes earlier, the Buccaneers’ offense stood at their own 48-yard line down seven points with 5.9 seconds left in regulation. They needed a miracle. Instead, they got a fumble.
Mainland’s backup quarterback, Cameron McClaine, took his eyes off the ball, fumbling the snap and the Buccaneers’ chance at a comeback bid.
And with his team huddled around him, Wilson prepared to give a postgame speech to his ailing players — then the insults came.
The opposing team’s fans were swearing and cursing at the Buccaneers’ players, some of whom were already in tears from the loss.
Wilson quickly took his team to the locker room to help them regroup.
“They were hurting,” he said. “The thing that helps the most is making the guys go through everything together and loving on each other. We got in one big huddle and all of us had our arms around each other. Once you do that, that helps you get through things.”
It was a rough end to a rollercoaster of a season for the Buccaneers. In a game riddled with great defense and periodic offensive droughts, No. 2 seed Mainland (7-4) was taken down by No. 7 seed Carol City 17-10 on the night of Friday, Nov. 17, at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium in the second round of the Class 6A Playoffs. The Buccaneers had 169 yards of total offense and failed to score until the 7:06 mark in the second quarter.
“The plays were there,” Wilson said. “We just ran out of time.”
Last season, the Buccaneers were on the brink of perfection. They had won 11 games in a row. Then, they met Carol City. The Chiefs bounced Mainland 34-7 in the third round of the playoffs.
This week was supposed to be revenge.
“It’s just life. Can’t really think much more of it,” Mainland defensive tackle Kevon McCrary said.
McCrary was part of a strong defensive effort that held the Chiefs (8-3) to 189 yards of total offense. But despite the offense’s struggles to stay on the field, he said there was never any finger-pointing.
“I never let that get to my head,” McCrary said. “It is what it is. If the offense can’t score, just get back out there and get another stop.”
Next, Mainland faces the daunting task of replacing its graduating players, many of whom will go on to play in college, including offensive lineman Adonis Boone (Louisville), wide receiver D’marcus Adams (Florida State) and defensive back John Huggins (Florida State).
“We had about 20 guys in that locker room tonight that didn’t play that are so ready and so hungry,” Wilson said. “There’s some guys that are ready to step right up and play football for us, and we can start working right away for next season. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
For McCrary, the preparation for the 2018 season will start as soon as possible.
“I’ve got to get in the weight room tomorrow,” the junior said. “I’m going to start fresh and keep working until we see this team again.”