In life, you find out some things are bigger than others.
Sure, Lincoln Prep wanted to win its Missouri Class 4 District 8 playoff opener against East. The Bears came into the Week 10 contest with revenge on its mind after a Week 6 loss to the Blue Tigers.
But after an early morning wreck on Thursday left Lincoln Prep junior running back Israel Gentry in critical condition at a local hospital, winning a high school football game took on a different meaning against East.
“It’s difficult because we put so much into being undefeated and having a great team this year and then something like that happens, that kind of puts it in perspective,” Lincoln Prep head coach William Lowe said. “The record and the scoreboards don’t mean as much when something like that happens.”
Led by a hard-hitting defense minus standout linebacker Jermaine Hamilton Jordan and a stout offense, Lincoln Prep cruised to a 38-10 win.
The No. 1 seeded Blue Tigers, 10-0, will host fourth seeded Excelsior Springs in Round 2. The Tigers, 7-3, defeated fifth seed St. Joseph Lafayette 28-24 in playoff action.
After Lincoln Prep’s resounding victory, Lowe expounded on the significance of Friday's game.
"We told them today, for two hours, just try to play as hard as you can," Lowe said. “We told them the word would just be effort. Don’t look at the scoreboard just play as hard as you can.
“Israel is such a strong kid, his message would be to play as hard as we can. We’re still the No. 1 seed so we have to try to live up to that.”
East head coach Greg Smith was a class act after the game. But what else would the longtime educator and coach do besides support his Interscholastic League brethren in a time of need?
"We’re a family in the IL," Smith said. "We stick together. We’ll be rooting for those guys."