Support extends beyond Raider boundaries

Photos by Jacob Wiegand/The Herald
Southridge assistant coach Terry Jones said the 11 seniors in this year’s Raider football program taught him “to grow into being a better coach and being a better person in life.” Jones, who coached each of the seniors from their freshman to senior years, said he spoke to each senior about how much he appreciated them and what they meant to him personally. “I’ve got a couple of them on there that I call my son and my grandson,” Jones said. “They’re amazing kids. I can’t say enough about them.” As players cleaned out their lockers Monday, Jones hugged senior Jose Chavez. The Raiders met for an end-of-the-season gathering two days after winning the Class 2A state championship. More photos from the gathering are at the end of this story.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

Upon their return to Huntingburg, the state champion Southridge football team caravan first made a stop at a shopping center parking lot on the north side of Jasper.

What Raider head coach Scott Buening saw next blew his mind.

“We pulled up there and it was just car after car after car,” Buening said. “It got me a little emotional that people cared that much. Then we came into Huntingburg and it was just indescribable — as soon as I saw that support, I just started crying in the bus.”

The police and fire departments from the City of Jasper escorted the Raiders through Jasper on their trip back home from Indianapolis as they made their way toward Huntingburg. Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz posted on Facebook that Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner told Seitz about the caravan and Seitz said it was an “honor” to be able to help.


And while Jasper and Southridge may be rivals in athletics — the football teams tussle early each season for the Goal Posts Trophy — the support the Jasper community showed didn’t surprise Buening one bit.

“I know we hate each other that week we play against one another but other than that, our schools root hard for each other,” Buening said. “We all want to see our county do well.”

The support from Huntingburg, Holland and St. Henry has always been loud and proud for the Raiders. But neighboring towns and schools in Dubois County and throughout southwest Indiana showed the Raiders plenty of love before, during and after Saturday’s thrilling 15-14 state finals win over Woodlan.

Via Twitter, Linton, Tell City, Boonville and Western Boone (northwest of Indianapolis) all wished the Raiders luck before the game and congratulated Southridge on their accomplishment after the final play. Facebook was lit up Saturday with congratulatory posts from folks who had limited links — or none at all — to the Raider football program.

Buening said when he got on the bus after the game, he checked his phone to find more than 60 text messages and even more messages on Facebook congratulating him on the win. Much of the praise came from people he hadn’t talked to in awhile.

“There were messages from people from my hometown to college guys I played with to even former softball players and football players I’ve coached along the way,” Buening said.

“I mean, players I wouldn’t think I’d hear from again or would even be paying attention to something like this. It was overwhelming and a very humbling experience.”

Four of the six teams that won state titles were from the southern part of the state  — Southridge in Class 2A, Evansville Memorial in 3A, Columbus East in 5A and 4A’s East Central (along the Ohio border not far from Cincinnati), where Buening spent seven years as an assistant coach.

The upswing in dominating football programs fro down south is encouraging news for Buening and the Raider program but he’s also happy to see some of his good friends get state championships of their own.

“I’ve coached with a few of the coaches at Memorial and also was at East Central for awhile so that was kind of special to have them play the game right after us Saturday,” Buening said. “But it’s just awesome for us to find a way to get those wins, it was special.”

 

What he said:

Southridge players and coaches had plenty to say after winning the Class 2A state championship Saturday in Indianapolis. Here are some of their thoughts.

On what It felt like to win the state title:

“This is the pinnacle. This is what you play for, practice for, work for, live for, everything you do is for this moment.”— coach Scott Buening

“I can’t even cry I’m so excited right now. This is the highest honor that could be bestowed upon our football team.” — senior Colin Smith

“Best feeling in the world. I don’t even know how to put it into words. I feel like our fans put it into words by how loud they were cheering at the end. That’s exactly how I feel.” — junior Tucker Schank

“It’s surreal I’m still kind of in shock a little bit. It’s great. This is what we worked for. All that time, it pinnacled tonight. It’s just great. There’s a big man upstairs looking out for us.” — senior Mitchell Carter

“It almost seems like a fairy tale, Cinderella story going out with a bang quite like this. I’ve always dreamt of something like this. You never thought that all the boys you grew up with would be there at Lucas Oil sharing the same experience you just had, winning the 2A state championship. It’s just great. I have no other words. I loved every minute of it.” — senior Grant Maxey

On the final drive to win the game:

“We never had to use that two minute drill in a game, but that’s why you practice those things every week. You don’t know, you may need it in the state championship game.” — Buening

“We’ve practiced our two-point offense like that all season. We knew we were going to have to come out and execute it some time. For the state title with a minute-something left to go, that’s pretty sweet how we can come out and do that.” — senior Jayce Harter

“That last drive was our last glimmer of hope. We thought ‘Our backs are against the wall here so we have to make something out of it.’ As soon as we got the ball back we knew that we just had to get to work. Just keep pushing and hopefully it would result the way it would.” — Maxey

On resilience and mental toughness:

“For 16 to 18-year-olds on this stage, in this building, with this crowd...to be able to make those plays at the end was just phenomenal. The mental toughness of this group and resiliency is just insane” — Buening

Southridge senior Grant Maxey hugged assistant line coach Terry Jones while seniors cleaned out their lockers for the season Monday in Huntingburg.
Southridge seniors Mitchell Carter, front row from left, Jayce Harter and Justin Lammers and, back row from left, Jose Chavez, Colin Smith and Jonathan Blocker listened to Raider defensive coordinator Steve Winkler speak at an end-of-the-season team gathering Monday in Huntingburg.
Southridge senior Jose Calderon turned in his football jersey for the last time Monday as the Raiders cleaned out their lockers in Huntingburg.
Southridge senior Justin Lammers laughed with assistant line coach Terry Jones while seniors cleaned out their lockers for the season in the Raider locker room Monday in Huntingburg.



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