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State High Football: Little Lions Face Undefeated Season With One Final Home Test

by on November 04, 2016 12:15 PM

One win, that's all that stands between State High football and a perfect regular season record. Nine games down, a single four quarters of football to go. Win those quarters one at a time, and the rest will take care of itself.

For coach Matt Lintal and his staff that has been the message every week, just go 1-0. It's similar to the sermon preached up on high outside of the Lasch Building by James Franklin. Both coaches might be separated by lightyears on the pay scale, but they're getting the same results, you might even say Lintal is getting more of them.

Nevertheless it's a sunny and surprisingly warm afternoon as the not-so-Little Lions take the practice field earlier this week. The ground is soggy, bumpy, a reminder of how much success you can have even without all the fancy gear. State College is spoiled no doubt, but high school football, save for a few schools in Texas and Florida is by in large a sport stripped of all the fancy facilities and latest technology. You're playing football because you love it, and that's about all you need.

"We're all clicking at the same time," quarterback Tyler Snyder said before practice. Ask anyone on the team and the feeling is the same, this group has gelled. They're friends off of the field, they're good teammates on it. That's about all you can ask for at any level let alone at such a young age. Most of these kids will never play football again, and yet they're dominating teams, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

"I think that's what defines championship football teams," Lintal said reflecting on that chemistry. "There's a lot of talented teams out there, I think the difference is who comes together the best. I said this to our team last night, every football team takes on the characteristics of its senior class so this is really a tribute to the work they've done. We have 29 seniors who have been working a long time to be at this point and you couldn't write the script any better."

For Lintal himself this has been no small feat. A few years prior he found himself working as a guidance counselor tucked away deep in State High's oddly lit North Building. Lintal's father coached the team at one point, football has always been in his family it has always been a part of him. When then coach Al Wolski finally retired from his long held position it was Lintal who found himself at the head of the list, and suddenly just like his father it was a whistle around his neck and a winning team on the field.

"Yea" Lintal said, thinking about how much has changed in such short order. 

"There's quite a tradition of State College football," he added, rattling off the names of former coaches, former now NFL players. "And you know that you're not probably going to be as blessed to have a team like this each and every year, but if you conitnue to gell together and continue to work and have the leadership that we've had in this senior class and great things can happen."

And so it comes down to one last game at home. The state's No. 5 ranked team facing a nearly undefeated No. 10 ranked Central Dauphin squad that State High hasn't beaten since its last undefeated season in 2008. There isn't revenge on anyone's mind, but there is a reminder that the previous games don't win the next one for you.

From there it's the playoffs and whatever happens next is anyone's guess. 

But for right now the Little Lions are an evening of football in one of the state's, and maybe the nation's, best stadiums away from perfection.

And it's hard to picture anything better than that.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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