After Mainland’s 66-0 drubbing of winless Pine Ridge, Bucs coach Travis Roland walked over to talk to the Panthers.
He had never spoken to the other team’s players post-game before. But Roland saw the look of defeat on the Pine Ridge faces on Oct. 24 at Daytona Stadium, and he felt he needed to say something. Three days earlier, Mainland suffered a 33-6 loss at Kissimmee Osceola, and Roland wanted the Panthers to understand that a loss will not define them.
“One loss doesn’t change who you are as a young man.”
— TRAVIS ROLAND, Mainland coach in his talk to Pine Ridge players
“One loss doesn’t change who you are as a young man,” Roland told them. “Us losing didn’t change that I was a good dad and a good husband and a good teacher. It just gave us a loss on our record. A loss doesn’t change that you’re a 3.5 student, it doesn’t make you not a good kid in the community. So just continue to stay whole to that.”
Six players scored touchdowns for Mainland in the game. Jackie Bowdry and Clarence McCloud each scored twice. The Bucs led 52-0 at the half. The third and fourth quarters were shortened to eight minutes with a running clock.
Mainland (6-2), which escaped the game injury free, will be back in action at the stadium on Friday, Oct. 28, for its biggest game of the year against Seabreeze. The winner will clinch the District 9-3S title and secure a spot in the playoffs.
“It’s for all the marbles,” McCloud said.
Mainland, the No. 1 team in the 3S classification as of the FHSAA’s Oct. 19 rankings, is likely to receive a playoff bid even with a loss to the rival Sandcrabs. But the Bucs, who have made the playoffs for 28 consecutive years, want to win the district, which was something they were unable to do last season.
“A win will guarantee that this senior class won’t be the one that some newspaper writes, ‘This is the first Mainland senior class that didn’t make the playoffs.’ Because it is going to happen (someday),” Roland said.
“There is pressure playing at Mainland,” he added.
But his players also know that wins and losses won’t define them as people.