Editorial: Bears finish great gridiron season Op-Ed · November 16, 2012
West Branch could have had another November football team, but we remain proud of another winning season and the 20th trip in school history to the playoffs. There remains great temptation to get into the what-ifs for the 2012 season. What if the first Regina game had gone into overtime? What if we had beaten Wilton and not faced Regina until the third week of the playoffs, instead of the second? What if we hosted Regina again and senior running back Cade Jones had not gotten injured?
We remain convinced that if there was a team capable of beating Regina this year and breaking their winning streak, West Branch was one of them.
Nonetheless, the Bears finished the season with an 8-3 record and came closer to beating the Regals than any other team in that streak. And we will have another chance next year.
But what about all of those other teams in the district? Durant proved a very tough early season team. Lisbon, coming off a state championship, also fell to West Branch. And very few other teams had a whisper of a chance of scoring as long as our starters remained on the field.
Regina is tough and diverse and deep and talented. Their ability to recruit as a private school gives them an edge, and the prospects of playing under a professional football player, Marv Cook, are undoubtedly tempting. We have heard the arguments: Regina ought to play at the next level because of their advantages, not this level because of their enrollment. And while the Iowa High School Athletic Assoc. will have to field those calls and complaints, the Bears will not use that as an excuse. Year after year, they will prepare for every game one at a time, break down the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent, and work a plan to beat anyone who dares to stand on the other side of the scrimmage line.
In any given season, about a fourth of the football teams will end their season with a win, yet all but one of them does it in the regular season. When those who are good enough to get into the playoffs take the field for that “second season,” they know the rule — win or go home — and only one team can win five of those games. Everyone else will end their season with a loss.
That means the stakes are higher, the work is harder, and no one will take it lightly. Emotions run high on and off the field, whether the clock is running or not.
Still, a loss at that level is never a reason for shame. Disappointment, sure. But not shame. That goes for Head Coach Butch Pedersen, all of the assistant coaches, every player, cheerleader, parent and fan. No team plays this well without support.
The Bears had their fifth year in a row making it to the playoffs. They prepared and played to win.
So win or lose, they once again earned our support and deserve our applause. These are the glory years of football in West Branch. And the Bears make us proud.