INDIANAPOLIS – There was no hope of a comeback for Snider as the final seconds ticked away in Saturday's Class 5A State Championship Game, but the resolve and determination displayed by the Panthers all season was still in full effect.
Quarterback Brandon Phelps, hobbled by an ankle injury he sustained in the semistate matchup, was still running back and forth from the sideline as he ran the final plays of the season.
Senior Weston Painter, left knee wrapped as it had been for the last several weeks as the lineman battled injury, was still standing on the sideline rooting for his teammates.
And Coach Kurt Tippmann, leader of the Panthers, was still coaching his players as if the game was on the line.
The 39-14 loss to Lawrence Central may have ended Snider's perfect season, but it did not affect how the Panthers played to the end.
“We weren't worried about our guys quitting,” Tippmann said. “It is a great senior class and they will go down in history in the Snider program as one of the great ones. We just didn't get the final game done.”
The over 30 Snider seniors end their high school careers with four sectional crowns, a pair of regional championships and a semistate title.
And do not forget an SAC championship.
“(Our seniors) won quite a few championships and we are proud of them,” Tippmann said.
Instead of falling flat when the times were tough, this Snider team seemed to rise to the occasion throughout the season. When Painter left the sectional championship game against North Side, the remaining linemen elevated their game to offset the loss.
Everyone knows about the monumental comeback against Fishers, in which maximum efforts across the board, not just from the upperclassmen, helped the Panthers pull off a miracle comeback.
So to expect this Snider team to just roll over when the game was out of reach on Saturday was out of the question.
“High school kids rotate in and rotate out and our hope is that every group that comes in here has a chance to win championships,” Tippmann said. “This group, especially the senior group, embraced everything we talked about how we want the program to develop. They are the essence of working hard for something and caring about something other than themselves.”
Those qualities will carry on with the Snider seniors and reverberate throughout Panthers Nation long after the memories of the state title game defeat fade away.