Andrew Rieves was in no hurry to exit the final game of his high school football career.
The Navarre High senior quarterback, whose toughness and play-making personified his team and this season, moved in all directions across the field. He congratulated and consoled.
His helmet stayed on. His chin strap remained buckled.
And he kept his chin rightfully held high.
"I love my team, man," he said. "I would die for them, honestly."
Only a dream died Friday night, the disappointment of the Raiders' 62-26 loss to Gainesville High in the Class 6A state semifinals. After a special season, Navarre simply ran into an opponent that was better in a state where it is so hard to win a championship.
Gainesville (14-0) traveled and proved its No. 1 ranking in this classification and No. 16 rank in the ESPN national prep poll.
But if the Raiders (12-2) were hurting, the solace is what this team attained and the enthusiasm generated. Both of those feats were not lost on Rieves, who put it all in perspective.
"Since last winter we have busted our butt every day," said Rieves, who stepped into the starting quarterback role, making a transition from linebacker, after injury and a transfer necessitated the move.
"Teams don't run and lift during the season. We run stadium steps every Tuesday. (The loss) stinks, but we put it on for Navarre, the city. This changed the whole community
"It is bigger than us."
When you reach the state semifinals in this state, you have done something really big. For awhile Friday night, the Raiders caught unbeaten Gainesville's attention. They got defensive stops on the Purple Hurricanes' first two possessions.
They had Jay Warren loose for a big gain when the ball was punched free, then squirted into the end zone on the ensuing scrum. Gainesville recovered for a touchback ... and then went 80 yards for a touchdown.
Eight seconds after that score, it became 14-0 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.
A high snap over Rieves' head on the next play became a Gainesville touchdown, thus changing the whole dynamic of the game. It was a one-two punch that staggered Navarre. To the Raiders' credit, they created some suspense in the second half, scoring 19 points in the third quarter after trailing 28-0 at halftime.
It brought out the pride of Navarre.
"We made mistakes early and they gained a lot of momentum," said Navarre coach Jay Walls. "They are an outstanding football team. You give them the momentum and they are going to make you pay, and they did that in the first half."
Gainesville attained its most wins in school history Friday night and reached the state championship for the first time in 32 years.
"It is a great feeling," said Gainesville coach James Thomson. "It was a humbling feeling. I am just proud of these kids and proud of this opportunity."
Navarre takes away a season with a district and region championship, along with an enthralling run in the state playoffs.
"It has been great overall," Walls said. "Winning the district ... our record at home has been great, winning in the playoffs, winning Region 6A.
"This team made a lot of history. It was a lot of fun."
It captured a community. The Raiders' playoff games were complete with overflow crowds. Many of those fans did not leave Friday even with the game decided.
They created a special atmosphere. Unfortunately for Navarre, the Raiders just ran into a special team.
"The swagger," said Rieves, when asked about Gainesville's best quality. "They talked and played like the No. 1 team. We weren't backing down, we weren't scared, because we punched them in the mouth a few times. It was just our mistakes."
But it doesn't change a season full of feats.