This game plays no favorites. Some nights it can be downright cruel.
One week, you're riding on cloud nine, feeding off the misfortunes of your opponent. The next, the mistakes are yours.
On Friday night it was Navarre's turn as the Raiders suffered a 62-26 loss doled out by nationally-ranked Gainesville.
The Raiders (12-2), No. 10 in the state poll, saw some early errors plague their Class 6A state semifinal showdown with the top-ranked Purple Hurricanes, 16th in an ESPN poll.
"We tried to do what we've been doing," Navarre coach Jay Walls said. "We knew to be successful, we had to prepare the same way. If you made it a big deal, then it was gonna turn into a big deal."
Gainesville (14-0) turned four first-half turnovers into three touchdowns en route to a 28-0 halftime lead.
In its Region 1-6A final win against Lake City Columbia last week, the Raiders turned Columbia's costly blunders into a healthy 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
"You have to take away the mistakes," Navarre running back Jay Warren said. "The only way to lose is to beat yourself. That's why it hurts really bad."
Warren was inconsolable afterward. Family, faculty and friends wrapped their arms around the senior's thick neck, but they only produced more tears.
Moments earlier, though, Warren was attempting to help a shell-shocked group of Raiders wrestle back momentum.
He scored the first of three touchdowns (9, 40, 37) less than two minutes into the third quarter.
The problem was trying to slow down Gainesville's offensive storm.
When Hurricanes quarterback Mark Cato wasn't throwing the ball all over the yard to the tune of 220 yards and four scores, tailback Rapheal Webb was leading a ground attack that exposed Navarre's defense.
"We wanted to establish our passing downfield," Cato said. "I've kinda been on and off. We wanted to come out and show how good this offense really was."
Cato and Co. will try for a repeat performance in next week's title game against Miami Central, a 48-33 winner against Naples.
"They're very good," Walls said of Friday's opponent. "Turnovers and the kicking game were really tough to overcome. The offense came out and did some things in the second half and we got some good play early."
But each time the Raiders threatened to steal the night's momentum, Gainesville remained poised and provided an answer.
Navarre quarterback Andrew Rieves cut his team's deficit to 41-26 with a 2-yard plunge early in the fourth as a packed house erupted for their boys.
"We didn't want the season to end," said Warren, who finished with 23 rushes for 195 yards. "We kept fighting and fighting."
All that fight and all that anticipatory air in the stadium was nearly sucked out on the Hurricanes' ensuing drive.
Cato deftly led his team deep into Raiders' territory, finally capping it with a 9-yard strike to Case Harrison.
The touchdown, the second of three to Harrison, mercifully ended a nine-play drive that drained nearly half of the final frame.
"That's what he's been doing all year," Gainesville coach James Thomson, 29, said of Cato. "And, most importantly, he has done it when we needed it.
"We're thankful and we feel blessed. We know we have one more."
For Navarre and Warren, it all ended Friday.
A cruel, twist of fate ultimately proving to be the Raiders' untimely undoing.
"It hurts," Warren said, doing his best to choke back his emotions. "To come from 3-7 my freshman year to this close to state, it hurts bad, man."
Gainesville 62, Navarre 26
Gainesville...13 14 13 21 - 62
Navarre...0 0 19 7 - 26
G - Tony James 14 run (Alex Holloway kick), 0:54.8.
G - Alex Gonzales fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed), :46.0.
G - Rapheal Webb 2 run (Larry Pruncy pass from Mark Cato), 7:15.
G - Webb 4 run (Holloway kick), 3:25.
N - Jay Warren 9 run (kick blocked), 10:04.
G - Chris Thompson 14 pass from Cato (Holloway kick), 7:32.
N - Warren 40 run (run failed), 7:10.
G - Case Harrison 27 pass from Cato (kick failed), 6:17.
N - Warren 37 run (Chandler Moorer kick), 4:33.
N - Andrew Rieves 2 run (Moorer kick), 11:11.
G - Harrison 9 pass from Cato (Holloway kick), 6:50.
G - Harrison 19 pass from Cato (Holloway kick), 5:12.
G - Webb 31 run (Holloway kick), 5:01.