Friday night started ugly and it ended even uglier for the Reading football team, but don’t be fooled and let a single contest be what you remember this Ranger squad for.
In my heart of hearts I truly believed Rick Bailey’s troops would surprise a lot of people and make the Tigers sweat, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Brain Rauth looked like a good back instead of a great one against a Hudson defense that was quick enough to get to him before he could turn the corner and the cliché that “games are won in the trenches” was all too real for the Rangers.
Hudson blocked longer and harder, their tight-ends kept guys like Alex Eastwood from bringing any type of rush and they were deceptive enough with their formations at the line of scrimmage to keep the usually aggressive Rangers on their heels just long enough to make them freeze — and then make them pay.
Eventually Reading started over-anticipating play calls that looked like one thing but turned out to be another, and on the other side of the ball it wasn’t much better.
Joe Hubbard never had much of a chance to prove he’s “the best quarterback in the Big Eight” as Bailey likes to call him, not because his linemen weren’t trying, but because Hudson was able to shed blocks as if they didn’t even feel them in the first place.
So many things went so wrong for Reading for the majority of 48 minutes last night, but I for one hope that the passionate Reading faithful, and the players themselves left their disappointment and anger in Hudson.
They have too much to be proud of and very little to be sorry for.
Think about this for example — the senior class lost a grand total of two games in their entire football careers. They went undefeated in consecutive seasons on the JV squad and then were key members of two perfect regular seasons at the varsity level.
All told this group should be remembered as the crew that went 40-2 while they sported the red and gold.
This team is also full of overachievers who utilized more of their potential than any school in the county.
Remember just last year when we all wondered how they could ever possibly replace Trent Morris and Trevor Ryan?
All Brian Rauth did was lead the conference in yards and touchdowns. And Billy Julian was the sequel of power-back Jon Williams, while Matt Van Nuys could’ve started for some Big Eight foes.
And remember how Joe Hubbard was way too timid of a leader to ever fill the shoes of his brother Jordon at QB?
That seems like ages ago, after Joe made a statement in a memorable comeback last year at Pittsford, and helped guide his team all the way to a state semifinals appearance. Did I mention that Reading had been out of the first round of the playoffs just once since 1998 and he was a big part of four playoff wins?
The real difference between this year’s team and last year’s was glaringly obvious against Hudson — the offensive and defensive lines, but I think history will show that the 2008 bunch might be one people are talking about 10 or 20 years from now
Steven Smith was an all-state lineman not once, but twice, Ryan Dillon was an emotional leader who rarely gave up an inch to the opposition, and Austin Spieth and Zach VanHoosear were two-year starters with good size and exceptional intelligence.
Instead of choosing to blame the current linemen, why not look at how they dominated their opponents for 10 weeks this season and just realize that a school like Reading doesn’t get to hand-pick its players from an overwhelming stockpile of talent, they only get to decide how hard they will work and what kind of attitudes they have.
This Ranger team is arguably the most accomplished in the program’s history, 22 wins in two seasons is a new school record, and it is exactly the number of wins Reading had the previous three years combined.
Success has a way of ratcheting up expectations, and I am guilty as charged for expecting more out of Reading Friday than what I saw, but two conference titles, one of the best marching bands around and and a town who cheers and cries with every snap of the ball is something special.
The 2009 Rangers ended the season with a lump in their throat, but once they digest the entire picture of what they’ve done they should feel a whole lot better about themselves.