The tension never even got a chance to build Saturday for the Sterling Golden Warriors.
Hours before the annual IHSA football playoff pairings show, coach Jon Schlemmer learned that his squad was one of 10 eligible teams to miss the cut for the 256-team field.
“I’m real happy with how the kids played the last 2 weeks,” Schlemmer said. “They took care of the things they could control.
“Coming into Saturday, we didn’t really know what to expect. Unfortunately, things didn’t shake out the way we had hoped, and we were the first team out.”
The Golden Warriors finished the season 5-4, closing with back-to-back NIB-12 victories to put themselves in position for a possible at-large playoff berth.
But Sterling didn’t get quite enough help from the other teams on its schedule, and came up a point short of securing a spot in the postseason.
St. Bede and Richmond-Burton were the last two teams to earn at-large bids, and both finished with 36 playoff points.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, and it’s going to be tough for the kids,” Schlemmer said. “But Sterling football is a strong program, and I know the older kids will be great leaders through this, just like they have been all year.”
Another area team to finish 5-4, Fulton, finished with 34 playoff points, one fewer than Sterling.