Lake Catholic Football Coach Mike Bell said it was difficult to watch his team's season end Friday night against their rival Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
"You want more for this group of young men," Bell said. "Not to make it to the postseason is uncommon around here."
The stakes are never low for a Lake Catholic-NDCL matchup. However, pretty much every incentive possible was in play for Friday's game.
The winner would be the champion of the NCL Blue Division. Also, the Cougars (6-4) needed a victory for a chance to make it to the postseason.
But it was the Lions (7-3) who punched their ticket for the playoffs with a 21-0 win.
NDCL used a pair of calling cards that the Cougars had been relying on all season -- a lockdown defense and a steady running game.
Lions running back Nick Evans ran for a pair of touchdowns. Meanwhile, the NDCL defense crowded the box and prevented the Cougars' running game -- which leans on quarterback Mark Baniewicz and running backs John Stepec and Bret Zimmerman -- from building any momentum.
"We had a pretty good idea of how they were going to play us defensively," Bell said. "It's the same way people have been playing us for most of the season. We just couldn't get it started."
Bell also had no interest in blaming the wind or rain for his team's troubles. He called the weather a nonfactor.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, Bell stressed that he was proud of this team.
It recovered from a 1-3 start and a spate of injuries.
"I can't say enough about their tenacity and character to overcome the amount of adversity they faced this year," Bell said.
"I don't think a lot of teams could have done that."