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Sometimes, you still have to fight back
Teejay Gordon gets off a physical stiff-arm Friday during East Union’s playoff contest with Del Oro Friday at Dino Cunial Field. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Even before Del Oro boarded its bus in Loomis, the majority of the Sac-Joaquin Section knew what to expect from the Golden Eagles in their SJS Division-III playoff debut. East Union knew more so than anyone, yet the Lancers still had a job to do.

Sometimes in life, you encounter a situation where you have no choice. Like the 65-pound kid that is tired of the big guy picking on him, sometimes, even in losing situations, you just have to fight. For me, this game wasn’t about East Union mustering a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive against the behemoth, I just wanted them to fight back.

Del Oro was up 21-0 before the first quarter horn sounded, giving the Lancers ample opportunity to accept the hand they had been dealt and allow Del Oro to roll all over them like the Northern California power it is, but East Union didn’t.

They didn’t?

How, when it was 58-7 and they took their second string running back out after his second touchdown of over 40 yards. That’s what the average fan would think, but football, like life, has a unique way of letting a person show who they are.

Even though the Lancers were unable to mount a threat, give Del Oro any reason to think its season may be ending, or even tally a first down early on, fighting and clawing and consistently giving up his entire body clearly earned Teejay Gordon a great deal of respect from a great team.

“They are a spread team that is very good and they have some great athletes,” Del Oro head coach Casey Taylor said. “We knew we had to make them throw to beat us because their quarterback is a pretty special player. He had some special moments out there tonight.

“We just wanted to make them work for it, and try and put some drives together.”

When you can roll up 275 yards passing and another 95 rushing with three touchdowns, it is easy for someone to notice you. Landing on someone’s radar in a 58-7 blowout is not so easy. Unless you’re the guy who’s taking plays off and thinking about Applebee’s or your girlfriend, then it’s easy to get noticed, just for the wrong reasons.

Just as Del Oro came in the game expecting to win, the Lancers carried that same attitude as well. At one point, you can only hope reality sets in and you realize it’s not about winning and losing. Sometimes, it’s just about fighting back, because Del Oro, like that bully, ain’t going to quit punching.

I know what it was like when Coach Mike James led East Union into the locker room trailing 37-0, to a team he KNEW was great. I know he had a life lesson that that entire locker room will remember forever. Yet, when Del Oro ran the second half kickoff back 95-yards for a score, sometimes, you realize you just have to fight.

Falling from arguably the highest mountain this program has ever been able to pull itself atop makes the pain of the loss sting a little more for a little longer. One day, East Union will realize who they were beaten by and it will make more sense.

If I was a betting man, I’d bet the Lancers were just knocked off by the eventual Division-III champions. I don’t know if they’ve got any shirts printed up yet, or what they thought of themselves when they were 2-4. All I know is their coach feels they “are a battle-tested team peeking at the right time, and just trying to play another week” which gives me the idea they’ll be OK.

East Union will be OK too, the pain of the loss will subside and the joy of one of the most remarkable, rewarding seasons in school history will reign supreme. Yet, there will still be a moment when each player who took the field for the Lancers against mighty Del Oro will have come to grips on rather he was one of the guys who laid down or one who fought back.