They were ranked in the Top 10 to open the season, and after coming within a point of an undefeated regular season record the Wildcats football team tore through the 5A Division 1 playoffs to the state title game.

That's a whole lotta gold footballs. Photo by me.

The Wildcats' 2014 dream season came just 4 points shy of a state championship, but what was accomplished by this team is something not seen by this city in two decades.  Despite all the records set by this team (and there were plenty of records broken), the lasting memory for me will be the look on the faces of the Wildcats players as they were awarded their runners-up medals.  It was a look of utter disappointment, but it also shows just how much the whole season meant to them.

This group of Wildcats is filled with winners, not just on the field, but off the field as well.  This group of players were freshmen when Coach Mike Spradlin took over the team, and it was evident at the team banquet just how much they meant to each other.  There were plenty of tears shed, not just on the part of the players, but also on coaches, parents and fans.

Photo by me.

Players are moving on.  Coaches are retiring.  It will be a new look for the Temple Wildcats in 2015, but before moving on to what's next, it was time to look back at all that was accomplished by this team.  I was very honored to be asked by Coach Spradlin to emcee the banquet.

I was also honored to be awarded a State Runner-Up medal by Coach Spradlin.  The same medal given to the players after the state championship game, Gene Pemberton and Greg Wille (Temple Daily Telegram) also received a medal.  I'll place this medal on the same shelf, and the same regard, as all my other sports memorabilia.  There are signed footballs and baseballs, press passes and backstage passes I've collected over the years.

Photo by me.

Even a signed OU football from the 2000 National Championship team or a World Series press pass doesn't compare to this medal.  It was great to just go along for the ride as these young men broke record after record and eliminated opponent after opponent throughout the playoffs.  By the time the final whistles had blown on the 2014 season, these Temple Wildcats finished with the 2nd-most yards gained in the history of high school football.

Thanks for a great season, and thanks to Coach Spradlin and Co. for making Gene Pemberton and me feel like part of the Wildcat family.  Gene's been here for 3 decades doing Temple football, but for a newbie like myself it was great getting recognition during the banquet and receiving one of the medals presented to the team on the field following the game.