Week thirteen. An hour drive in the drizzle and fog to Highway 119 in Shelby County. A 20 minute two miles per hour wait to get into the parking lot across the road from Briarwood Christian Academy. Briarwood has long been known as a force in high school football in Alabama. It would be a tough game, many thought. Being without star running back Deshun Murrell, who was not allowed to play due to a concussion last week, might make it even harder.
Indeed, between the drizzling rain making the AstroTurf and football wet and slippery, the relentless penalties called, and the home team being smart enough to not throw the ball much with Seales and Moton on the field, these two State Playoffs 5A Quarterfinalists proved to be as evenly matched as one might find. It was a nail-biting, long dark night of a game. A few interceptions and shining moments kept the hope and drive going for Bibb. The crowd, band, and cheerleaders all roused mightily to support their team from beneath their umbrellas and ponchos. Yet, despite boundless spirit and determination with all-out effort until the very end, the Choctaws fell in this battle.
The scoreboard showed evidence of the hardest fought night of an absolutely spectacular season. 7 to 3. A few trips into the red zone yielded only a 3 point field goal for Bibb. Still, the defense held the Lions to only one touchdown.
As the clock wound down to zero after the Lions quarterback took a knee, Bibb’s best came off the field, emotional and stunned. Tears were evident in the eyes of many players, cheerleaders, and even some fans. But, as the team approached the sidelines as a group to sing the alma mater one last time for seniors, the entire crowd cheered. It was a warming moment of appreciation to those boys who learned how to take a tough loss as they are on the road to becoming men.
It may be argued that this was one of the best teams in Choctaw history. I don’t recall seeing a better one. No Bibb County football team has gone further. None achieved more. And for me, this team shined brightly because of their chemistry and cohesiveness, their team mentality, and their support of each other regardless of all else. I saw up close their spirit, determination, talent, and caring. I experienced moments from them that made me proud to be a Choctaw, as I’m sure everyone who attended a game this season did.
Hold your heads high, boys, and look forward to your futures. Know that you achieved what countless Bibb County teams before you only dreamed possible. Look back on this season with pride. Purple Pride.