BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTO BY DEB SCALLY
As some folks wisely say, sometimes, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey along the way.
Friday night, the magic in Rudderville ran out a bit earlier than anyone on the home sideline or in the home stands would’ve hoped, and the Page High School Patriots closed out their special season in a close loss to visiting Beech.
It was just one of those games you can’t plan for, and one of those games that can really go either way. The ball bounces as it wants when November comes around, and even the best teams are left vulnerable to a night on the other side of success.
The team ends the season 10-2, capping the school’s clear-best season since 1999.
Junior quarterback Cade Walker’s uncle Jared was the quarterback of that region-winning team. It had been 19 years since the team could add that plaque to the wall. In October, Chase Tidmore kicked the team to another over rival Shelbyville Central.
The struggle with football comes with how you balance something special with something sullen. Indeed, the team came up short of their ultimate goal, a trip to Cookeville to compete for a state trophy. This team was good enough to do that, but the fates of football had other plans.
No, the Patriots didn’t go all the way. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave this season as winners.
The season itself was a dream. A new field prefaced a big Battle of 840 win over rival Fairview, a revenge blast against Summit (who bounced them from the 2017 playoffs), dramatic OT wins over Shelbyville Central and Lincoln County, that amazing comeback against Nolensville, a playoff party win over Hillwood to open November. If not for a random outcome last Friday, the good times would still be rolling. It’s not, and that’s never easy. But look what this team has to be thankful for.
Look at Walker’s electric season, one that cements him as a clear D-1 football prospect and into quite an exciting guy to lead this team in 2019. He had big shoes to fill with former starter Jacob Van Landingham (now a receiver with Virginia Tech), and he took the role in stride.
Look at Quincy Brock-Compton emerging some time into the season to help give the Pats a consistent run game. Look at that defensive front and the play of guys like Jackson Satterfield and Luke Bowers in the middle. Look at Trey Faunce, who stepped in for Walker when he went down at QB and kept Page afloat just long enough.
And look at Michael Burdick, a brilliant talent and mind who manned stellar play at receiver, defensive back and as a returner. Burdick put on highlight after highlight, and became a Mr. Football semifinalist (and should’ve been a Finalist, but that’s neither here nor there). He’s got a visit to Tennessee Tech under his belt, which is well-deserved and not nearly enough for what he could bring to a football program.
We’ve said as much here before, and will continue to until he gets a scholarship offer. It’s a confusing blight in the local recruiting scene, and at least our midstate colleges should pay closer attention.
And it was quite a year for head coach Charles Rathbone and his fellow coaches. Outside of a loss to 6A powerhouse Ravenwood, he went undefeated in 5A up to the playoffs and got his first region title as a staff. The team improved from their very sound 2017 team into a 2018 unit that fulfilled any promise from that year and then some.
Losing guys like Burdick, Brock-Compton, Bowers and Satterfield will be tough, just as promising as it is to see what Walker could do with this offense as a senior.
The lights are dimmed now over Page’s football field, but the memories of 2018 will linger on. That region plaque isn’t going anywhere, and will be a guiding light for any and all future Patriots to see what they can achieve, and what they can surpass.
Don’t let those Burdick spin-arounds for touchdowns, or exciting Walker scrambles, or earth-shattering sacks, or photo finishes, or winning field goals to defeat rivals for school history, fade away, Patriots. They’ll always be fond to look back on, and will drive you to make more highlights happen.
But, above all else, remember how special it was every time it was time to play football out at Rudderville this fall, with your teammates and coaches around you. This season will last. This season was special. This season was not for loss.