Senior quarterback Cory Simpson, fighting back the emotions, kept his helmet on as coach Jeff Shore delivered the post-game speech.
Soon, senior running back Murphy Ward, despite breaking down, implored the underclassmen to take the lead for next season, while junior slot back Kullen Carlock could only shake his head in disbelief.
How understandably difficult it was. The Camdenton Lakers allowed only one touchdown to a team averaging almost 38 points a game and still couldn't punch through in a Class 5 quarterfinal, falling 7-0 to the Parkway Central Colts on Saturday at Bob Shore Stadium.
Parkway Central rode 6-foot-3, 230-pound bruiser Michael Slater on an 80-yard scoring drive in the second quarter -- benefiting, too from a fake punt -- and then engaged in a defensive battle, walling off the Lakers from even taking a drive inside the Colts' 35-yard line.
"They had our number today," Simpson said. "We gave it everything we had. Losing a game like that is hard."
Carlock was more direct.
"They're tough and bad," Carlock said. "Running the ball, it was tough to get going. Passing game, it was tough."
Camdenton (8-4) was 1-3 at one point this season but hit the quarterfinal with a ton of momentum after upsetting rival Lebanon on Monday night.
But the Lakers found themselves in desperation mode in the fourth quarter Saturday, needing to drive 79 yards for the tying score. Like the game, the series fell short.
Simpson directed the series with big pass plays to tight end Chase Nugent and then Carlock. But Jonathan Bonner's sack forced a third-and-14 from the 36 in the final 90 seconds. The next two plays resulted in incomplete passes, including a lob pass to Nugent that was knocked down at the 5.
Parkway Central (11-1) had taken command on the 80-yard scoring drive, keyed by a fake punt in which up-back Johnny Naughton took the snap and ran for 31 yards. Slater then handled nine of the next 11 carries. Quarterback Zach Lazenby scored on a 1-yard run.
Hard to believe it would be the game's only score. But the Colts held Ward, who rushed for 1,500 yards this season, to 45 yards. Simpson finished 13-of-16 for 133 yards, 121 after halftime.
"They made us earn it. They didn't give us anything," Parkway Central coach Mark Goldenberg said.
Looking back, the Lakers could only cringe.
They had chances early in the third quarter to make a game of it, forcing two fumbles on consecutive series. But the Colts stuffed Ward on fourth-and-1 at the Colts 36 and on the Lakers next series forced a fumble on a pass in the flat.
A strong wind from the south eventually became an enemy for a Camdenton team that is better on the ground than through the air.
Midway through the fourth quarter, just after the Lakers crossed midfield, Trey Knes intercepted a pass at the Colts 41. Carlock was running a fly pattern and wide open. The wind clearly kept Simpson's pass from rainbowing straight into his arms.
"I thought our defense played great," Shore said. "Offensively, we had our moments but we couldn't put anything together back-to-back."
"They did a nice job," Shore said of Parkway Central's defense. "I feel like we're a pretty good offensive football team. But they were able to stalemate us."