The photographers were in place, the final seconds were counting down and the fans were getting ready to charge on the field.
The Columbus North boys soccer team was about to win the regional championship with a dominating 4-0 victory over Bloomington South at the Wigh Soccer Complex.
Three ... two ... one.
Think of a fizzled out bottle rocket. Or a whoopee cushion that doesn’t whoopie. Or a Halloween ghost with no boo.
The Bull Dogs lined up like they were punching out on the time clock before leaving Wigh behind. You might make note that Saturday’s contest was the North seniors’ final game at Wigh.
There was no rolling around the field in laughter or dog-piling at midfield. Heck, you might have thought they just had finished off a practice session.
As the players gathered, they talked about keeping their emotions under wraps because they have bigger fish to fry. The great white shark of their soccer season would be a state championship, which is three wins away.
Having lost to Crown Point on penalty kicks in last season’s state title game, it’s obvious why North wants nothing less than a state championship this year. Then again, I remember some television Kung Fu guy saying that we all should enjoy the journey.
The victory on Saturday was a thing of beauty. Every North player on the field made some sort of dominating play that contributed to the victory.
And it came against a team, Bloomington South, that had beaten the Bull Dogs during the regular season. This was a huge turnaround. Giant.
“We’ve worked so hard and we are training well,” North junior William Bridgeman said. “We’ve grown as a team.”
The North student body understands as much. The students were there to support their team and they made the small crowd seem like a big one. Some of the students started bringing a couch to games that they plant along the sideline. Well, this was a two-couch game. They knew the importance and the achievement.
After the victory, the student fans raced on the field and formed a tunnel so that the team could take a unique victory lap. The students did the same thing after the North girls won the sectional title over Columbus East and the atmosphere was electric. OK, the North girls lost in the next round, but I guarantee you that they always will remember that moment.
So here’s to the North boys for a tremendous job to this point. Sectional titles and regional championships are special even if they have become common. Hopefully, you’re all smiling inside even if you don’t want to show it quite yet.
You deserve it.
Jay Heater is the Republic sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 379-5632.