Winning when it matters

Just last week, Razorbacks fans were understandably down in the dumps after an underwhelming performance against Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament. It looked like the Hogs had all of the momentum. They had just defeated the rival LSU Tigers and was one of the hottest teams in the nation even with that close loss to Tennessee in the last regular season conference game.

Flash forward just a week, and Hogs fans are rejoicing because they are heading to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year. Neither of the Hog's two opening games in the big tournament have been pretty, but the name of the game is to survive and advance.

It would appear that this team has realized the importance of winning when it matters.

It kinda reminds me of my senior year in high school. It was the summer of 2006 and I was getting on my friends' nerves by always asking about how summer workouts were going. If we were going to beat El Dorado and Magnolia this year. All of them said the same thing: The Camden Fairview Cardinals are going to beat everyone on the schedule.

I didn't want to get my hopes up. I knew what my classmates were able to do as well as the class behind us, but the last time our class went undefeated was in Jr. High. So many of us that had played back then weren't playing now.

The fall finally arrived and it was time for the scrimmage. The scrimmage game was against small town Warren. I knew they were pretty good but they shouldn't be able to whoop 5A Camden Fairview, right? At the time we had four D1 players and four more D2 players on the roster. There were also a few walk-ons on that team.

After a rain delay, the game started and the Cardinals were beat handily. It was ugly even for a scrimmage game. I don't remember the final score but it was at least a three touchdown difference. Now, it's also important to note the Cardinals were playing against the Greg Childs, Jarrius Wright and Chris Gragg Warren team so there's that.

The moral was very low in the school after that game. We thought if we cant beat 4A Warren at home then how are we going to beat 6A El Dorado in Union County. Fordyce was on the schedule as well, and the Cardinals struggled against them the two prior years. The players - to their credit - were still confident. They admitted to being overconfident against Warren. It would've been nice if they won, but they had the opportunity to work on depth and see how some plays would work in an actual game. They talked about having to be more serious during pregame and they still maintained they were going to sweep conference when the season started.

They did.

Not only did the Cardinals beat El Dorado 20-10 that year, but they went on to have an undefeated regular season. To my knowledge, that was the first undefeated regular season in Camden Fairview football history (since the two schools combined in the early 90's). That was also the first year since the mid 90's that the Cardinals made it to the second round of the playoffs.

In hindsight we discovered that if it hadn't been for everything they learned during that loss against Warren, the Cardinals might not have had such an unforgettable year.

Back to the Hogs. It's kinda hard to believe this Razorback team that lost at home to Hofstra is the only SEC Team still dancing. There's a lesson in life here.

Learn in your losses so you can win when it matters.

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