DAWSON, Ga. --- Tears flowed and players embraced one another after Briarwood Academy's 28-0 loss to Terrell Academy in the deep south Georgia city of Dawson last Friday night.
Parents and others hugged the players, too.
It was an emotional time for everyone affiliated with Briarwood Academy. The Buccaneers' attempt to advance to the state championship game against Thomas Jefferson Academy of Louisville this week fell short.
And what a game that likely would have turned out to be in Louisville -- the same place where back in October, the TJA Jaguars defeated the Buccaneers 21-7 to capture the Region 1-A title.
Briarwood Academy head coach John Osborne reiterated to his players on several occasions while talking to them after the game that they had nothing to hang their heads about.
"They worked hard all season long, and I'm real proud of all of them," coach Osborne said on the long chartered bus ride back to the Warren County private school.
The Buccaneers finished the season with an 8-4 record and made it to the semi-final round for the first time in several years.
Take away a couple of big mistakes and it could have been a different ballgame, maybe, lamented coach Osborne.
"We showed we could move the football on them several times and that was pleasing," he added. "I just wished we could have finished up some of the drives we had with touchdowns."
He praised his senior corps saying they had come a long ways in the two years he has served as head coach and athletic director.
The Briarwood team, which had been trying to win the school's third football state championship since 1976, consisted of the following players: Taylor Coxwell, Matthew McElveen, Ryan Pritchett, Michael Kent, Dalton Reese, Ryan Nelson, Fifth Newton, Andrew Coxwell, Blake Sowell, Carson Wiley, Colt Phelps, Jacob Patterson, Russell Burdette, Jesse Prescott, Eric Johnson, Adam Hardy, Matt McHatton, Ashton Wiley, Cordele Fite, Will Souther, Tyler Edwards, Steven Gunn, Trey Stadler and Saul Smith.