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Garcia looks back on the end of perfection

REFLECTIONS: Hillsborough's season ended with a 40-20 loss to Lakeland Friday night in a Class 5A Regional final game. On Saturday, Terrier coach Earl Garcia sat down with the Times to review the game and the season.

Times staff writers
Published November 28, 2004

A tough way to end the season but a fine year nonetheless.

Yes, it was, but we do feel good about what we accomplished this year. An 11-1 record, a district championship, and an undefeated regular season makes us all proud.

The way your team stopped Lakeland on your 2-yard line in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach was impressive. And your quarterback, Jarred Fayson, running 25 yards on the last play of the game, showed he had no thoughts of quitting.

Yes, we felt real good about that. We may not have had the most talented bunch of kids this year but they gave us everything they had, and I told our coaches just a few minutes ago that I thought they did their best job of coaching since I've been here. Some say we are a year away but I'll take 11-1 any year.

Who do you have coming back next year?

We have 14 of 22 starters coming back including our entire backfield of Fayson, Jimmy Sapp, and Ty Mitchell. So we feel good with eight offensive starters returning.

Lakeland outscored and outgained you 2 to 1. Were they twice as good as you Friday night?

If we played them again next week, the score would probably be the same. They were three touchdowns better than us. But, who knows, last year we beat them by four touchdowns to knock them out of the playoffs and this year they did us in. But give them credit because they are a very talented football team.

You're a gambler. You rolled the dice twice this year in overtime games against Middleton and Jefferson by going for two in overtime and you won both to give you an undefeated season. Down 27-14 at the half, did you think about going for an onside kick to open the second half and jump-start a comeback?

We felt at the time we were only one or two plays away from getting the momentum we needed to mount a comeback. We've always said the most important drive of a game is the one that starts the second half. They controlled the ball for seven minutes and scored to open that second half and that's why they are such a good team.

Was last year's game when you won 41-14 a reverse copy of this year's game?

Yes, it was. We were just as dominant then as they were against us Friday night. They had just about all their team back this year and next year, we'll have most of ours, so, who knows, maybe we'll meet up again.

What were your thoughts on Chris Rainey, (192 yards and four touchdowns) Lakeland's great sophomore tailback?

I want to check his birth certificate. He must have 700 days in his calendar year. He's only a sophomore? My goodness! On that first touchdown where he had a broken field run of 69 yards on the game's first play, I thought he was trying to run out the clock in the first quarter with all that zig-zagging he did on his way to the end zone. He's just plain scary good.

Do you think they used last year's game as a motivational tool to perhaps come at you a little bit harder?

Maybe so, but they are so talented they don't need any motivational tools to get the job done. They stayed in the same defense all night and just throttled us. They played a plain vanilla offense, nothing we hadn't seen them do before on tape, and just ran hard and straight ahead. Their defensive backs hit like our linebackers, their linebackers hit like our linemen, and their linemen hit like nobody we have. It seemed like we would make some positive yards and they would knock us straight back. They plain out-hit us.

A bright spot was your kicking game.

Yeah, we were very pleased with that area of our game. Both our punter (Mikey Antonakakis) and our placekicker (Tyler Edenfield) are back next year so we feel pretty good about our future in that department.

Final thoughts?

When you win as many close games as we did, two one-point wins in overtime, a four-point win, and a seven-point win in the playoffs, that's a sign of a good team. The one game we did not win, it wasn't close and that was the game Friday night. But all in all, it's been a great year.

- SCOTT PURKS, Times staff writer, and JIM REESE, Times correspondent

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