Unfortunately, I was not at Cougar Stadium Friday night for North Putnam's 6-0 semi-state victory. Other responsibilities -- both in the office and at home -- have kept me from getting to as many county football games as I would have liked this year.
But I was happily listening WREB as, again and again, the Cougar defense came up big against a previously-prolific Evansville Mater Dei offense.
Then in the third quarter, Aaron Vondersaar came up with his big interception. A play later, his brother Caleb had the game's only touchdown -- a 25-yard halfback pass from Travis Franklin.
At that point was there any doubt the Cougar D would hold that 6-0 lead? Well if you've ever watched a game -- any game at any level -- you know I was still worried.
But it didn't matter. The Cougars held on for the victory, downing a team that has the advantage of recruiting players in the IHSAA's inequitable system.
I can't say I knew the Cougars would be here. The truth is, North Putnam has been an elite team during each of the four football seasons I've been in Putnam County. They've never quite put it all together quite this well, though. I'm impressed with what they've done.
Also, when you see a team this good for this long, it's not easy to recognize when they are this good. But that's exactly what this team is. They beat one of the elite squads in IHSAA football on a night they made quite a few mistakes. Clean those up and this Friday can be even bigger.
The only advice I can give to the entire North Putnam community is enjoy yourselves. This isn't an opportunity that comes along often. Several years after I graduated, I was lucky enough to see my alma mater go to the state finals two years in a row. Looking at the program now, I'm not sure when I can count on it again, but I'm proud of what I witnessed in those years.
When you work for the local paper, you aren't supposed to specifically cheer for any school, but I think I'm safe at this point in saying, "Go Cougars."