Wakulla football supporters stand by their team to the end




Coach Scott Klees and his players gathered for the last time as a team after in their locker room late Friday night. Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

CRAWFORDVILLE — Outside of the building housing the Wakulla High School football team’s rocker room, the parking lot was jammed with cars, trucks and minivans last Friday night.
They were loaded with fans, friends and families of the players.

They were solemn. Their team had fallen in its second unsuccessful bid in four years to win a state title.

But the War Eagles were appreciative that such a large turnout showed up to welcome them home an hour before midnight. They were hoping that their team would have delivered what would have been the program’s first state title in more than three decades.

“Football is everything in our town,” said linebacker Monterious Loggins, who made seven tackles in his final high school game. “Our fans – no matter whether it’s raining, snowing or 100-degrees outside – they are going to be there.”

The mood inside the War Eagles’ locker rooms, where coach Scott Klees gave his team one last speech, was deafeningly silent at times.

The players held hands in a circle in front of Klees, who was still showing emotions from the last-second loss to Morris Bishop.

“My heart got ripped out and I’m sure these seniors’ heart got ripped out,” Klees said. “There is no doubt about it. But you’ve got to get up and figure out where your character is.”

About eight hours earlier before the War Eagles’ supporters showed in Crawfordville, their season came to a stunning end after Feleipe Franks missed a 50-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Bishop Morris a 37-34 victory for the state title.

Wakulla was hoping to bring a title back to the small town, located about 30 miles south of Tallahassee.

But even with the missed field goal that would have send the game into overtime at the Citrus Bowl, Klees said Franks, who doubles as quarterback, was the right call.

“I wouldn’t want anybody else kicking it,” Klees said. “I mean, he nailed it. It was just a foot to the left. Those things happen, but I would take him every time.”

No one was second-guessing Klees, either. Especially because Franks seldom missed a kick from midfield during practice.

“Before he kicked it,” said running back Brandon Berry, “I thought he was going to make it because we have seen him do it farther than that.”

The loss was especially painful to Berry. A year ago before he moved to Florida, he was on Oak Grove’s team that lost in the Mississippi state final in a similar fashion.

“It had that same feeling,” Berry said, reminiscing what had transpired earlier in the day. “We played pretty good today because of the practice we had (last week). We were all pretty focused. We were all on the same page and we did what we had to do.”

Loggins, who said he is considering playing his first year of college football at FAMU, was just as torn up over the setback.

“This game meant a lot to us,” he said. “Those days during two-a-day; we’ve been through it all. Every high school football player’s dream is to play in the high school football championship. We completed our dream but we didn’t quite fulfill it.”

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