Frank Maennle stuck it out, never knowing if this moment would come.
Now that it has, one of the most tenured assistant coaches in Western North Carolina wants a storybook ending for his family and the Swain County football team in Saturday's NCHSAA 1-AA championship game.
The Maroon Devils (15-0) will go for their second consecutive state title against Southwest Onslow (13-1) out of the Jacksonville area.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
Win or lose, Saturday's game will be the last, football-wise, in Maennle's 34-year career - 30 of which has come with the Maroon Devils.
He is also their varsity boys basketball coach.
Maennle's only son, Matthew, tied a Western North Carolina for single-season touchdown catches (22) in Friday's 1-AA Western Regional championship game (a 28-21 home win over Monroe). On that same night, the senior also tied a school record for single-season receptions (62) and padded his team-high total for yardage (1,164).
Matthew Maennle's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown proved to be the game-winner on Friday, giving him a team-high eight picks for the Swain County defense.
"My career has been a joy," Frank Maennle said.
"I've got 34 years in now and could have gone out a long time ago. It's been incredible though. It's been tough at times for Matthew, but that's what kids go through when you're a coach's kid. I've told these kids, one of the reasons I stayed around was to be part of not only his senior year, but a lot of these kids have grown up in our house. It's been great to see this group of seniors have this opportunity."
Frank Maennle's area of expertise with the Swain County football team is the running backs and defensive backs.
He grew up in Andrews and spent the first four years of his coaching career at that Smoky Mountain Conference school.
Prior to this school year, Frank Maennle was also the Maroon Devils' athletic director, but he turned those duties over to Swain County football coach Neil Blankenship.
Matthew Maennle said that his father has been an integral part of his development as both a player and a person.
"You better believe it," Matthew Maennle said.
"(Saturday) will be bittersweet. But I'd rather it turn out to be a lot more sweet than bitter. We've been through a lot together. There are always assumptions when you're a coach's kid about why you're playing as much as you are, but we got through it. I owe so much to him."
Matthew Maennle's older sister, Lauren, won a NCHSAA 1-A volleyball championship in 2008.
Matthew Maennle has been a four-year starter for his father's boys basketball team and a three-year starter in football.
The former All-WNC football selection said that Mars Hill is recruiting him "pretty hard" in that sport and that it's his favorite of the two.
"Being from Swain County, it has to be football," Matthew Maennle said.
"I remember when the guys on this team used to sit around and dream about winning a state championship. We would talk about it all the time. The chance to win two is something we never had any idea about."