It was a season-opening win that means little in the grand scheme.
Or was it?
It was the end of nearly five years worth of unrelenting frustration that wore on the psyche of everyone who was close to it.
Or was it?
It may seem easy to sum up the moment High Point High School's football team produced on Saturday in the sweltering heat at Laurel.
High Point 38, Laurel 16: It means the Beltsville school's football program no longer has a losing streak that started when all the current players were in middle school. It means references to the Eagles no longer can be followed by snickers and sneers about how they haven't won since November 2007.
There was the celebration you would expect on the High Point sideline as the final seconds ticked away. Coach Andre Brown got doused by the contents of the water bucket. With temperatures topping 90 degrees and humidity thick enough to choke a five-year losing streak, that had to be as much of a relief as the win. There was a jovial postgame huddle, as the team was joined at the foot of the bleachers by a small group of smiling parents and friends.
Smiling. After a High Point football game. Reflect on that for a minute.
But there also was a remarkably admirable sense of perspective from Brown and his players — not only about what it means to win, but also what it means to lose. And to not quit because of the losing.
Asked whether he thought about not coming back to play this season, junior quarterback Raymond Lyles had no hesitation.
“Not at all,” he said. “Once you form a bond, it's just there. You can say we suck, but once you form a bond it's that brotherhood. You focus on that and don't think about [losing]. If you think about it too much it's going to keep you from practicing.”
Even if the players didn't let the losing streak weigh them down, its effects were tough to avoid. The fall sports season at High Point has become more closely linked to soccer than football. High Point's boys soccer team has won five 4A South Region titles in the past 12 seasons.
“Homecoming is pretty much for them,” Lyles conceded.
Nonetheless, there has been perseverance. Brown, a High Point graduate, was hired prior to the 2011 season. An algebra and geometry teacher at the school, he seems to have stopped the revolving door of football coaches the program has gone through during the past decade. He is the team's third head coach since 2007 and sixth since the start of the 2002 season.
For Brown, the task of building the program at his alma mater goes far beyond wins and losses.
“We've got some more talent that's in the hallways and not on the field,” Brown said. “It's hard trying to get kids to go to class and get a 2.0 so they're eligible. I try to get with the families, and I don't talk about football so much, I talk about life.”
At 30, life has given him a few noticeable gray hairs — a fact he pointed out himself.
“I probably look older than 30,” Brown said Saturday.
Some of those might have come last season as the Eagles managed just 24 points in 10 games, their season ending with a 36-0 loss to an Oxon Hill team that entered the contest with an 0-9 record. Brown already was thinking about 2012.
“There were moments last year where I thought to myself, 'These are the things we need ... how can I get kids out here to do that and how can I cultivate the talents of the kids I already have?'” he said. “So I was formulating a game plan for this year during last year's season. I was very disappointed not to win a game, but I also understand you have to go through trials in order to succeed.”
It helped that he had a team of players eager to lift as they climb. Brown said players approached him about beginning their offseason weight lifting routine in December, several weeks ahead of schedule.
“They got together after Thanksgiving by themselves, out on the field running routes and drills and nobody was out there with them,” Brown said. “They'd come to me after and say, 'Coach, we did this and this.' So I knew we were going to be better.”
How much better remains to be seen. The Eagles get a quick — and perhaps harsh — reality check on Friday when they play host to Henry A. Wise, which is among the state's top teams. The Pumas are 6-0 against High Point and have outscored the Eagles 314-20 in those games.
But, of course, that's history. Like the losing streak.