OregonLive. Students. Staff. And coaches. Many thought that Tigard would rise above the Mountainside Mavericks in the second round of the 2019 6A football playoffs. This was proven to be false after a shocking Maverick touchdown in overtime. As that ball was caught, a question emerged from the field and has occupied some Tigard fans, football players, and coaches alike–how did a team that was No. 1 in state, undefeated for the regular season, fall to No. 16, a team just now possessing seniors?
One piece of this puzzle, according to Head Coach John Kemper, is the unforced errors that the team experienced that night. A series of small errors added up to something much bigger when on the field.
“We had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, things that we haven’t done all year, such as turn the ball over, missed tackles, things that when you get down to it against good opponents it can cost you games,” Kemper said.
“The loss definitely hurts, especially because of the potential we had,” senior running back Josh Burns said. “This is the first time Tigard’s been ranked No. 1 going into playoffs.”
Another aspect of this is the amount of injuries the Tigard team had sustained prior to the game versus Mountainside. These injuries, ranging from concussions to torn ACLs, left the Tigers on shaky ground when going up against the Mavericks. While Coach Kemper says that this isn’t the main reason for the loss, he agrees it was part of the imperfect storm that ended the team’s football season.
A third possible aspect could lie with Mountainside’s persistence throughout the game. At one point the Tigers led with two touchdowns, which could’ve been taken as a sign of defeat for the Mavericks. But Mountainside only saw this as motivation to keep going, as stated by Mountainside senior wide receiver Carlos Montero (7).
“I think one of the major parts that helped us win is that we were able to stay positive… Playing one play at a time was a huge thing for us,” Montero said.
Going into playing No. 1 in state may have seemed daunting for the Mavericks, but, as Montero describes, after that touchdown, the energy on the field was electric.
“After we scored the winning touchdown it was just crazy. The whole team was going crazy and we were all jumping around and hugging each other. Overall it was just a really great atmosphere,” Montero said.
“I think we played super hard,” Tigard senior Johnny Nomani said. A powerhouse this year on the field, he recognized the injuries that hurt the overall team, but pointed out how hard the team worked. “I’m proud of my team. Even though we didn’t win, it was a good game, and we battled through adversity.”
Despite the loss, the Tigers had an incredible season, coming out as league champs with an undefeated regular season.
“Although the loss stings, it doesn’t reflect the success of this year and all the hard work we put in,” Burns said.
“Overall [we had a] really good season. League champs; all we can do is move on,” Nomani said.
Not only can their hard work be seen on the field, it can also be seen through the lessons the football program taught the players. Both Nomani and Burns have learned valuable lessons through their time as Tigers, and will continue to carry what they’ve learned post-high school.
“Tigard football taught me to respect others, [and to] do something good even if people aren’t looking. It’s the best feeling being on a team with your brothers and loving coaches,” Nomani said. He plans to continue playing football after a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
“The biggest thing Tigard football has taught me is brotherhood and accountability. In my years playing here, it’s proven true time and time again that when everyone on the team does their job, we’ll be successful.” Burns said. He would like to pursue both track and football in college, seeing some “unfinished business” for the latter due to the loss.
As the season comes to a close, Kemper’s message to the team is to keep their heads high, and to be proud of their performance. While the loss was hard for the team, their hard work this season cannot go ignored and should not be pushed to the sidelines.