By Mike McAvoy
Campus Magnet head Coach Eric Barnett didn’t spend his post-game second-guessing himself or his team after their loss.
Rather, he spent it praising the Lincoln Railsplitters.
The No. 13-seeded Bulldogs fell to the No. 2 Railsplitters 44-14 in the first round of the League Championship Division Playoffs at Lafayette Education Complex Field Saturday afternoon. Lincoln’s football field suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy and could not play at the team’s school, so the game took place at a neutral site.
“My hat goes off to Lincoln,” Barnett said. “Their school is one of the classiest programs in the city and that’s why they win.”
Campus Magnet opened up the game looking like a team capable of pulling the upset. On the first possession of the game, the Bulldogs drove 51 yards on seven plays, jumping out to a 6-0 lead with 8:34 left in the first, after quarterback Blessuan Austin snuck it in from 1 yard out.
On the ensuing kickoff, though, the Bulldogs allowed Lincoln’s Antoine Holloman Jr. to return the kick 96 yards for a touchdown and things were all knotted up at 6-6. The Bulldogs, after their initial score, gave up 28 unanswered points to Lincoln (7-2).
With 6:31 left on the clock in the third quarter, Austin found William Callender for a 5-yard strike, cutting the lead to 28-14. But Campus Magnet failed to get any closer.
“The thing I love about football, more than any other sport, is the majesty is in its preparation,” Barnett said. “When you play against a program like Lincoln’s, you have to be prepared to play.”
Although that statement could be construed as Barnett questioning his team’s preparation, that’s not the case at all.
“Our kids played real hard,” Barnett said. “My game plan was superb and I never doubted it.”
Barnett cites this loss as running into, as he called it, “the toast of the league.” His Campus Magnet squad finishes its year 4-5, and while shaking hands with the opposing team, Barnett saw what he hopes to turn his program into.
“I’m trying to catch up to guys like that,” Barnett said of Lincoln. “I hope our program can turn into that.”