Players and coaches put in work from spring practice to the end of the football season with one goal in mind: Making the postseason.
And when that goal is gone, the weights get a little heavier in the gym and the yards a little longer on the field.
That's why the Central football team deserves recognition for its win over Smiths Station last Friday night.
In a reversal of recent history, it was Smiths Station that entered that game with the most on the line, playing for the Class 6A Region 3 championship and a top seed in the Class 6A playoffs.
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Central had already been eliminated from postseason contention. A win for the Red Devils over their rivals would mean a boost in pride, but little else in the way of a tangible benefit.
Using a combination of strong running and defense, a recipe that has served Smiths Station exceedingly well all season, Central pulled out the 26-17 upset.
It totaled 286 yards rushing, nearly 100 more than Smiths Station gained on offense, period.
From the usual suspects of Traveon Samuel and Kenneth Thomas, who both had touchdown runs, to freshman quarterback Zion Webb, who had a touchdown run and pass, the Red Devils were able to make enough plays to forget, at least for one night, the shortcomings of the 2013 season.
On the night that it celebrated the 20th anniversary of its 1993 state championship, Central reminded fans that it, too, could still contend with some of the incredibly talented teams in the difficult Region 3.
It's as if we had forgotten how talented Central was in a lot of places. Like Smiths Station last season, it was the overlooked team in a region abundant in success.
Hard as it is to believe, Central is just a couple plays away from a 7-2 record and a spot in the postseason.
There were plenty of problems that held the Red Devils back this season, a lack of consistency and an inability to close out games chief among them. They failed to utilize some of their best assets on a regular basis for much of the season and, as a result, will sit at home when the postseason begins.
But don't think that this team can't win football games.
Don't think that it can't compete with the best in the region and the majority of teams across the state.
It can, and it proved it.
More than anything, though, the players learned a lesson about how important it is to battle through the disappointment and give 100 percent even when it doesn't feel like it's worth it.
The Red Devils passed that test with flying colors, and it will be interesting to see how it carries over to next season.
My early guess is that the team's playoff hiatus will be short lived.
David Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.