Although the Columbus Explorers had one of their best seasons in team history this year, it ended on a down note last Friday as they fell to the Flanagan Falcons, 30-17, in the state semi-final game.
The Explorers took a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, which would prove to be their only lead of the game as the Falcons put up 30 unanswered points. Free Safety Austin Chacon, one of the lone bright spots in the game for the Explorers, inspired hope early on with an interception that lifted the Columbus student section off the Tropical Park bleachers. Although the loss was quite heartbreaking – there may not have been a dry eye among the senior members of the team – Chacon can still see the bright side. “Being a part of the two best teams in Columbus, of course, it means a lot, but I just want everyone to know that it didn’t happen overnight,” says Chacon.
He is tremendously proud of all the hard work he and his teammates – who he identifies as “his brothers” – put in this season. They make up a senior class of varsity football players that went to a state semi-final and a state final game, a feat no other classes have accomplished.
“Two years in a row, going to this game, the only senior class to ever [go to] back-to-back final fours… I’m proud of them,” says Matt Dixon, a member of the Explorers’ coaching staff. He is able to keep in perspective that even though the game did not have the desired result, the season was still a success. The bond felt among the Explorers is perhaps more valuable than any victory this season.
“Brothers are supposed to be there through the worst times and through the best times. We’re with each other when we’re great and when we’re bad we’re still with each other and that’s brotherhood,” proclaims Chacon. Although they were unable to bring the state championship home to Columbus, the experiences gained along the way will stay with the Explorers forever.
Video by Alexander Rojas with contribution from Christian Molina and Alejandro Basalo