Outside the Dawson County Tigers field house on Monday morning, shoulder pats sat on the pavement drying from their early morning, end-of-season cleaning.
It was a stark reminder that the season came to an end on Nov. 11 in the first round of the state playoffs with a 49-28 home loss to the Lovett Lions.
Dawson ended the season at 7-3 overall, 5-1 in Region 7-AAA, and as region runners up.
"It took me until Sunday to sleep," said Head Coach Sid Maxwell. "You look back and could do things differently, but you learn and you grow."
"Friday's game was a tough one," said Offensive Coordinator Andy LeBlanc. "The kids have worked very hard for a long time and to have our season end in that way is very tough, the seniors deserved a better ending."
Plagued by turnovers, the Tigers were unable to get back into the game after initially jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
"You can't have six turnovers, two bad snaps, a blocked punt and two missed field goals-one by a yard and one hitting the cross bar," said Maxwell. "We just never could get the lead back after we lost it."
On Dawson's third offensive outing, Coey Watson hit Kolton Brumbelow on first down for a 53-yard touchdown. That gave the team an early 7-0 lead with 1:02 in the first quarter.
As the second quarter began, the Dawson defense was able to get a stop on fourth and one when the Lions went for it.
The Tigers' offense again looked proficient with another touchdown on first and 10. This time Watson connected with Nick Murphy from the 47-yard line.
The momentum was with Dawson as the defense held the Lions and gave the ball right back, but that's when things began to turn. Watson was intercepted by Peyton Ringer on second down.
The Lions took over and Luke Martin shut down the offense with a sack for a giant loss.
Lovett was forced to punt, but the punt was fumbled and the Lions began again from the Dawson 42-yard line.
The Tigers took a 21-14 lead into the half.
Dawson County was able to pick up a fumble recovery in the second half, but like the interception, the team was unable to get any points out of it.
Lovett faked a field goal attempt to pick up a first down before scoring again in the third quarter.
The Tigers last touchdown came on another Watson-to-Murphy pass for a 21-yard touchdown.
"It's not always the most talented team that wins," Maxwell said. "It's the one that executes for 48 minutes."
Maxwell praised this year's seniors and the effort they have given during his two years of leading the program.
"Hats off to my senior class," he said. "They did a great job in my two years of being here, having success and they were a big part of it both years."
"I think that when we look back on the season, those within the football program will not remember the season as a first round loss," LeBlanc said. "Instead I think we will look at this season as the year the program grew due to the incredible leadership, toughness, unselfishness and the character of these seniors."
Those two years are just the start for what Maxwell hopes to see at Dawson County.
"To be able to come in these two years and do the things we have been able to do," he said. "And we are still not satisfied with. I thought last year we got as far as we could probably go. This year I thought we had a better football team than we had last year. We just didn't get a good enough draw.
"We are still in the infancy stage of developing consistency," he said. "That's the reason you saw the reverse work and the pop pass."
Maxwell said it's time to get going on next year.
"I have got to clean the equipment," he said. "We are off next week and then we will start hitting the weights and meeting with them. Today is a house cleaning day."