Every once in a while, life gives you an opportunity to stand up, show who you are, and what you believe in. Phil Lite, the head football coach at the high school where I teach, the rest of the coaching staff, and the team of Staley Falcons took advantage of one of those opportunities Saturday night in the Missouri Class 5 state championship game.
Ranked #1 and undefeated, Staley found themselves in the extremely unusual predicament of the offense sputtering in the second half and being down a touchdown late, as their worthy opponents from Pattonville scored with 57 seconds left in the game.
Undeterred, the team started the ensuing drive at their own 28 and took what was given to them. The Pirates were in a prevent defense to avoid giving up the big play, so Staley marched down field in 20 yard chunks, and in no time, got down to the Pattonville 9 yard line. The next play was a touchdown pass to cut the lead down to one with 9 seconds remaining.
But here is the defining moment I was talking about earlier. Without blinking an eye, even though the offense wasn’t producing in the second half, Coach Lite decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. It really was the ultimate do-or-die situation with a state championship on the line. He really believed, at that one moment in time, that all the hard work, reps, film study, and trust he had in the coaching staff and his players would manifest itself for one play. This truly was something you would see in a movie.
And the happy ending actually happened. The quarterback rolled right, took the entire defense with him, a receiver ran left and was left wide open where he grasped the completion with two hands to win the state championship.
Many people today are talking about how that decision to go for two by Coach Lite took guts. I agree, but I think there was much more to it than that. That decision symbolized what type of program he runs, and how he wants his young men to behave. If you’ve put in the work and believe in yourself and others to lead up to that situation, it’s not that much of a risk to go for two. That moment was the embodiment of the old adage, “Preparation today leads to success tomorrow.” It was an easy decision for Coach Lite to go for it.
Now that those players have seen that adage in action on such a big stage, I would like to believe that many of them will now work harder to succeed in their future lives, their careers, and their relationships. They now know if they do, there can be a payoff for putting in the time and effort if they are ever faced with making a tough decision.
So, kudos to Coach Phil Lite and the Staley Falcons, not just for winning the state championship, but for hopefully something much more important–giving everyone who was a part of the game and those who witnessed it the lesson that if you do business the right way every day, you’ll be prepared to rise up for the big moments that life will throw your way.