OTHELLO — A black pickup truck sat in the dirt parking lot across from the north end of Husky Stadium. As people filed out, walked across Hemlock Street, and got into their cars and drove off, the truck was isolated, alone in its vigil.
With the stadium long since empty, and the Cheney School District bus having gathered up its occupants, who were glad to get out of town with a 1-nil victory over Othello in a loser-out crossover match to determine a berth in the 2A state bracket, the truck remained there like a dog patiently waiting for the return of its master.
While the pickup sat in the abandoned lot, its driver was seated on the bench in the lifeless stadium long after screaming soccer fans had departed. A single raindrop trickled down the windshield, like a teardrop its owner would never shed.
The rollercoaster ride of emotions an athlete goes though after a huge win or a devastating loss is quite unlike any other experiences he or she may face. When victorious all is right with the world. When you go down in defeat nothing seems to make sense — it’s hard to wrap your mind around what went wrong.
Othello senior Reese Jones just wasn’t ready to call it a high school career. After finally making his way across the infield and over to the parking lot, he climbed in his truck and sat there for a good long time poking on his cell phone, silent in his thoughts, wondering why things didn’t turn out differently. Jones had a point-blank shot that would have leveled the contest, but Cheney goalkeeper Dalton Mauzay made an athletic play for the stop.
It was an even match, really. The Blackhawks had just the one breakaway in the 15th minute. Noah Prophet was taken down hard and the Huskies were called for the violation, setting up a penalty kick. Othello keeper Jose Gomez predicted the right direction, but as he dove to make the stop, the ball crossed under his outstretched arm.
That was it; one goal 15 minutes into it. The remaining 65 minutes were played to stalemate. Each team believing it was one shot away with a berth in the 2A state tournament hanging in the balance.
Hopes for six Othello seniors; Irvin Sandoval, Luis Gomez, Chris Alfaro, Frankie Ramos, Arturo Velasquez and Jones of returning to the state tournament and relive the past glory like two years ago when they reached the Final Four, were dashed.
Jones hit the windshield wipers one time, wiping away the single watermark that had made its way down the dusty windshield. He started up the engine and drove away; his thoughts private and kept to himself on a day where a great Huskie career lived out in public came to an end.