BROTHERHOOD: Following district loss, Pirates reflect on successful season, bright future
When the final buzzer reverberated around the stadium at St. Augustine High School, Jonah Robertson dropped to his knees and covered his head. While the Yellow Jackets celebrated their win in the 1A District 7 championship, Robertson’s season — and outstanding high school career — came to a bitter end.
Despite an unrelenting effort, Matanzas (9-4) was bounced from the postseason with a 9-8 loss on the night of Wednesday, April 18.
“This sucks,” Pirates coach Efrain Gutierrez said. “It stings bad, and I feel so bad for the seniors in our program. But their hearts should be full. My heart is full because we’ve worked so hard, and we’ve done everything right up until this point. Sometimes, things don’t always go your way.”
The Pirates led by as much as two goals in the second quarter and went into the half with a 6-5 lead following a goal by Matanzas’ Brad Stuart with 13.6 seconds left in the period. However, St. Augustine was able to jump to a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter. Matanzas' Corey Gales scored with 4:09 to go in the game, but the Pirates couldn’t overcome the deficit. The Yellow Jackets milked the clock on the final possession of the game.
“I don’t want their fondest memory to be this. I want them to take all the lessons that they’ve learned here into their lives. That’s what this program is about. Wins are great, but it’s all about providing young men with life skills and character.”
Matanzas coach Efrain Gutierrez
A game that had been circled on the calendar since the Pirates’ loss to the Yellow Jackets in last season’s district final was over.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a dog fight once again,” Gutierrez said. “The boys played their hearts out. They laid it on the line for four quarters. These boys have no quit in them. They’ve had no quit in them all year, and they have a tremendous amount to be proud of.”
Gutierrez is already looking forward to next season. In the following weeks, his underclassmen will be in the gym, working toward their next opportunity to get a crack at their hated rivals.
As for Robertson, and the rest of the Pirates’ senior class, Wednesday night’s exit from the postseason was a tough pill to swallow. But even though he’ll be suiting up for Division II Coker College in the fall, his days as a Pirate will always be on his mind.
“It’s sad that we came up short, but I wouldn’t want to go out like this with anyone else,” he said. “These guys are my brothers.”