As he stood in uniform on the St. Anthony's football field for the final time Saturday, St. Anthony's senior defensive end Pete Corbett knew the moment would last for a long time.
"This is the worst feeling in the world," Corbett said after St. Anthony's was beaten by Iona Prep, 28-10, in a CHSFL semifinal and failed to reach the league's championship game for the first time since 1998. "For the rest of my life, I'll remember that I lost in the semifinals."
Corbett did not let the occasion pass without demonstrating why he is a captain and emotional leader. As the final seconds ticked down, Corbett was one of several seniors who shouted to the team's juniors, "Don't forget this feeling."
"That's what St. Anthony's is all about," said Corbett, who had a sack and several quarterback pressures Saturday and led the team in sacks for the season. "It's like teaching your kids a lesson. You can learn from a loss and hopefully these guys won't have to experience this."
Things actually started well for the Friars (7-4) Saturday. They scored the first 10 points on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Walsh and an extra point and 29-yard field goal by Kyle Facibene that came shortly after Kyle O'Donnell blocked a punt in the first quarter.
But O'Donnell suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return, according to coach Rich Reichert, which in some ways typified St. Anthony's season. Starting quarterback Steve Genova and starting running back Jordan Gowins did not play Saturday and missed several games during the season.
"No excuses," Reichert said. "We didn't have enough to get it done this year. This was about as far as we could get. They were a little better than we were."
Iona Prep got to within 10-8 early in the second quarter on a trick play. On a reverse, wide receiver Dylan MucciQuasdir tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Robert Madison. The extra-point turned into an accident trick play when a high snap forced holder Lyle Bennett to throw for two points to Quasdir Sheppard.
Madison beat the Friars in more conventional ways later. He scored on an 11-yard run out of the spread to cap an 80-yard, 14-play drive to start the third quarter and put the Gaels (9-2) ahead to stay. They capitalized on an interception to march 58 yards in 10 plays, with Madison hitting Sheppard on a quick slant for a 2-yard TD and a 21-10 lead with 39.6 left in the third.
The fourth quarter proved frustrating for the Friars as they punted twice and turned the ball over on downs twice. Madison nailed it down for Iona Prep with a 33-yard strike to Sheppard midway through the fourth.
"Life throws things at you, like injuries," said Corbett, who was the only returning defensive starter for St. Anthony's. He switched his uniform number from 97 to 51 for yesterday's game so he could also help out on a banged-up offensive line. "You can't change that people get hurt. I'm proud that I got one championship my junior year."
He just would have liked one more.