Character stronger than wins and losses

When the clock reached zero during the Oct. 28 football game between the Pelham Panthers and the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies, my sorrow probably matched that of the green-and-gold clad players who fought so hard through the game.

Another season of Panther football had come to a close a few weeks before I felt it should.

But although the players were obviously disappointed at the game’s outcome, there was a genuinely positive atmosphere at coach Brett Burnett’s post-game meeting with the team in the visitors’ endzone.

Pelham had a lot of on-field success — including some unexpected wins — this year, but fell just short of the playoffs as the result of an incredibly complex three-way tie between the Panthers, Spain Park and Vestavia.

In any other region, I think the Panthers would be suiting up again this week.

But football wins and losses aren’t the be-all and end-all for this group of young men. Much more importantly, I watched the group mature and come together as a team despite some potentially season-crushing controversies early in the year.

I’ll spare you all the details, but the bottom line is that two of the team’s leaders were suspended after a text message-related scandal the week after the Mountain Brook game.

Say what you will about that situation, but I think the players who finished out the year should be commended for the way they came together and moved forward after that point.

They played together and they never gave up, even though they were fielding one of the youngest teams in the region.

Despite missing the postseason, I think the Pelham players have every reason to hold their heads high and be proud of what they accomplished this year.

Character lessons, such as teamwork and dedication, will benefit those young men long after this year’s win-loss record is a distant memory.

Neal Wagner is the city editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 17 or by email at neal.wagner@shelbycountyreporter.com.