The Sacred Heart Tigers had a historic season. They shot out to a perfect regular season. They won their first district championship since 2009 and their 10-0 start was their best since 2003.
But that run came to an end in the third round of the playoffs as the Tigers met their match.
Sacred Heart took on Hallettsville, which was riding a three-game winning streak and used a near-perfect start to roll to a 29-0 victory to cut the Tigers’ season short.
Sacred Heart head coach Dale Schilling said the Tigers knew it would be a difficult test against Hallettsville.
“I thought we’d have a tough time moving the ball on them,” Schilling said. “I think that was the best defense we’ve played all year and their middle linebacker was the best we’ve played all year. Take nothing away from them. They outplayed us and they’re a good football team.”
Hallettsville jumped out to a 14-0 lead and took that lead into halftime. Schilling told his team it needed to match the intensity to get back in the game.
“We kind of thought we would be the underdog, but that didn’t mean anything,” Schilling said. “They set the tone early on and we didn’t respond to them. That was the key to the game. We didn’t match their intensity. They were every bit as physical and played as hard as we expected. They really brought their A game. We had opportunities in the third quarter. We got down to their 30-yard line and we didn’t convert on fourth down.”
As well as Hallettsville played, being shut out to end the season was a tough pill to swallow.
“I knew it would be hard and they were more physical than we thought,” Schilling said. “I didn’t think we’d get shut out. They whipped us. There’s nothing else really to say. They physically beat us. The kids didn’t give up. We played hard, but we just got beat by a better football team. The stats were fairly even, but they had big plays.”
Despite their season ending prematurely, Schilling and the Tigers had plenty to be proud of.
“We had a great season,” Schilling said. “I think we overachieved a bit and I think we got everything out of the kids that we could. It’s something they will always remember. Injuries kind of took its toll on us at the end of the season. It was a good ride. The kids played and worked very hard from August on. We were one game away from the state championship and it’s always hard to win the last game of the season. Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Moving forward, Schilling said the team needed to focus on having better starts to games next season.
“I think we could have played harder at the start of the game and we haven’t had a good first half our last three games,” Schilling said. “I think we’re going to learn from that and from the first whistle to the last whistle, we have to play with energy.”
The future is bright for the Tigers, but Schilling said it’s always tough losing a hardworking senior class.
“We had very good senior leadership,” Schilling said. “I’m going to miss those seniors. They did a good job taking care of the locker room and leading this 2019 season. They will very much be missed. We’ll be hungry next year. These underclassmen will learn from it and we’ll be fired up ready to go in August. That said, we have to do a lot of work to get to this point again.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip