NORWOOD – It was an unwelcome shot of déjà vu last weekend when, for the second straight year, the undefeated Norwood Mavericks suffered a season-ending semifinal playoff loss that capped the end to another impressive run toward a state championship.
Hampered by turnovers, the Mavericks lost to Caliche High School on Nov. 20 by a score of 41-0.
“For us, nothing went right,” Head Coach Tom LaFramboise said. He didn’t have the statistics in front of him but said his team turned the ball over “at least” seven times. “Offensively, we never got into the flow of the game.”
As for Caliche, which will play undefeated Hoehne High School in the eight-man state championship game on Saturday, LaFramboise said they played a great game against Norwood.
“They did come to play. You can’t take anything away from their team,” he said. “They did everything right. We still had our chances and we still had some drives but we ended up making mistakes that cost us the game.
“After the first thing went wrong, it just started snowballing from there.”
Up until last season, the Mavericks hadn’t won the eight-man Western Division in 13 years, and have since competed to go to the state championship game twice. While the semifinal loss comes with disappointment, LaFramboise believes a strong football foundation has been laid and sees further success in Norwood’s football future. The team will lose six seniors to graduation this year and it’s those seniors that have helped build a winning program in Norwood.
“These guys, when they were freshmen, they got their butts kicked week after week,” LaFramboise said. “They are the ones that helped turn the corner and laid the groundwork through getting thumped for a while. They know how to work hard and how to win.”
While the score doesn’t show it, LaFramboise said his players did do some things really well in last weekend’s loss, and that playoff experience is an asset to have for next season.
“We had some kids that played extremely well, and some of those kids will be coming back next year,” he said. “All of these kids know and understand the pressures of playing in a semifinal game. I believe we will be good for a while. The kids and their families are really involved and go the extra mile to make sure they are successful, whether its in sports or in school.”
Overall, LaFramboise said this year’s team was a team that never gave up, even if nothing would go its way.
“We had some tough games this year, especially the game against Dove Creek,” he said. “The kids learned how to not give up and not blame each other. I even saw that last Saturday. They kept going. It seemed like no matter what they did, it didn’t work out for them, but they kept trying though.”