Originally Published: Aug 26, 2010 6:29 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Mobile Journalist
TULSA, Oklahoma – There was a bitterness in the voices of the Berryhill players when asked about the loss to Cascia Hall in the 3A title game last December. There was a twinge of regret as well.
“Nobody remembers second place,” said junior tailback Adam Dolan.
“It was tough,” said head coach Pat Harper. “It’s hard to work all year long and get that opportunity, make it to the state championship, and come up short at that time.
The Chiefs know the pain of coming close, but not close enough. They made it to their preseason goal. The state title stage, bright lights with a gold ball on the line. The only problem was they didn’t finish the job.
“We made it where we wanted to be, but we didn’t finish the way we should have,” said senior lineman Justin Finney. “We had a lot of turnovers in the final game.”
Those miscues don’t just haunt the Chiefs – they motivate them. Berryhill fell to Cascia Hall 21-0 last fall, and think about that chilly night at Boone Pickens Stadium every day at practice. Despite the grumblings about opportunities past, the team still thinks 2009 was a success.
“The kids fought hard and that’s what you fight for every year,” said Harper. “It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but all you can do is give your best effort and fight for that.”
The 2010 Chiefs are more determined than ever to raise a second state championship banner in school history. Berryhill last won a title in 2004 and thinks another gold ball isn’t too far off.
“That’s the goal for every team, every year,” said Harper.
Getting back to that level could be tough with a younger lineup this season. The Chiefs lost their starting quarterback, running back and multiple defensive stars from a season ago.
“There are a lot of underclassmen who need to step up and fill the roles left by our seniors last year,” said senior linebacker Justin Tomlinson. “It will be a challenge, but I think we can do it.”
The loss in the title game helped the players bond more on the field.
“I feel like we’re a lot more of a team than we were a year ago,” said Dolan. “We were pretty good last year, but I think we can push it over the edge this year.
“We just want to be remembered.”
2009: 11-3/ 6-1 record, second in 3A-District 3.
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Cascia Hall in the state finals of the 2009 postseason.
BEST PLAYER: Justin Finney. The senior two-way lineman has huge upside and leadership capabilities. Head coach Pat Harper says he expects him to get plenty of looks from colleges during his final season at Berryhill. The powerful 6-foot-3, 270 pounder will play right tackle and defensive end in 2010.
BIGGEST GAME: Week 6 vs. Cascia Hall, October 8th. How could it be anyone else? These two finished atop the district a year ago, and the players don’t get along with each other very well. Cascia has owned the Chiefs recently. A win at home could give Berryhill a leg up when playoff seeding comes around.