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Finals loss in 2012 propelled 2013 champs

Zack Bradley remembered how a simple format helped his Rough Rider teammates to a 2013 district championship.

With the current Rough Riders’ 31-29 loss to Executive Education in the recent District 11 Class 2A title tilt, Bradley’s bunch have been the last Catty team to take district gold.

The Roughies had lost to Pen Argyl in the 2012 district championship game, and then routed Palisades in the 2013 final. They scored 608 points and allowed 286 over their 13-2 record. Their season ended in a second-round, state playoff 49-0 loss to Imhotep Charter.

For most of the team, however, it was much more than football.

“We just asked ourselves if we were doing everything we possibly could to be as good as we can be,” said the quarterback, who threw for 3,047 yards with 43 touchdowns his senior season. “After we lost, we knew we had to keep working. We had the silver medals in our locker room as a reminder.

“We were all working for one common goal, and we put in as much time as we could. We had the town behind us, and we were working to make the town proud. It wasn’t about any one of us or our stats.

“Once we got to the championship game that year, we knew we would win it. We did everything we could, and the championship would be the icing on the cake.”

Lineman Jared Nosal still has the memories of Nov. 15, 2013, on his mind daily. It also has helped him put his life into perspective.

“That’s a date that I’ll never forget,” stressed Nosal, who has a tattoo of the championship on his right thigh. “It has been an accomplishment that engraved the grit and tenacity into my being that I carry with me daily. Winning a district title taught me that failures in life are not final, and that they are necessary obstacles to reach any type of success in every area of our lives.

“This also dates back to me failing eighth grade. While I was upset and embarrassed by that, it only solidified the idea of a ‘minor setback for a major comeback.’ Without getting held back, I would have graduated with a silver medal instead of a gold one. That was the mindset of my graduating class’ last opportunity to claim that gold medal.”

Fellow lineman Rhaine Sziy always will remember his head coach.

“My best memory of winning the district title was giving it to head coach Tom Falzone,” said Sziy. “Getting the job done and getting the gold medal after being runners-up the previous year was an amazing feeling.

“But I felt honored for the opportunity to give him his gold medal. The man was able to steer the ship through the whole season and get us to that district championship. For us seniors who had been with him for our entire career, it was the best thing we could give back to him after all he had done for us the past four years to get us to that championship.”