PETRO: Crusaders show heart in second half

By CAMAL PETRO,

I don’t usually go into a team’s locker room after the end of a game, but I did Friday night when I was covering Sacred Heart’s game with Richton. I’m so glad I did, too.

I wasn’t there to witness the postgame speech from coach Lonny Schraeder and Drew Dewease, but I was actually there to get an accurate roster. Since Sacred Heart’s uniforms haven’t come in yet, the players were wearing jerseys from last year. For an example, senior running back Tanner Blakeney was wearing former Crusader Joseph Bishop’s No. 4 threads.

But, that’s beside the point.

I stood off to the side listening to Dewease tell his players why the second half was a good example of how Sacred Heart should play in the future, then Schraeder walked in to say how proud he was of his players. A few players chimed in to echo those comments, and it certainly didn’t feel like a locker room that just lost by 22 points.

I don’t want to repeat what else I heard, because what’s said in a team’s locker room should be kept between them, but I will say it was nothing but positivity. I had Goosebumps, too.

The first half didn’t go well at all. Richton scored on its first offensive play of the game, and it rolled to a 35-0 lead by halftime.

When I cover high school games, I follow the line of scrimmage on the sidelines. Since Sacred Heart is a 1A team, the sidelines aren’t packed with players and coaches like Oak Grove, Petal and other bigger schools. I can hear just about every conversation that is taken place on the Crusaders’ bench, and I can even hear the play calling clear as day.

Sure, the players were upset with how the first half was going. They were angry, they were frustrated, but they kept their heads into the game. When trailing by five touchdowns in the first half, there aren’t too many teams that’ll keep their heads up in a time like that.

Sacred Heart did, however.

I’ll admit it, during the halftime break I contemplated leaving and going to PCS’ game with Columbia Academy, which was being played a mile away at PCS. I thought the second half would be more of the same when the teams came back on to the field, and I figured I could write a better game story if I went to PCS.

It would be lazy of me if I did that, and the folks from Sacred Heart who read my work wouldn’t have been happy. So, I stuck it out and I’m sure glad I did.

The Crusaders came back ready to play, and the leaders of the team kept the younger players’ heads up. A comeback was very unlikely, but the players knew there was a bigger picture.

Coach Schraeder said it best in the locker room. The first fives don’t mean a single thing when it comes to making the playoffs. All he wants to see is his players have the right attitude and get better each week.

Sacred Heart definitely got better last week, and I can’t wait to see how much they improve each week.

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