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De La Salle 141 Game Streak Ends
Special to the N.E.T. Sports Gazette
CONCORD, Calif. -- The players and coaching staff of De La Salle High accepted the end of "The Streak."
One day after the California team had its 151-game winning streak, the nation's longest for any football team, snapped in a lopsided 39-20 loss to Seattle's Bellevue High, De La Salle chose to look ahead.
"Bellevue is a better football team than us right now," Spartans coach Bob Ladouceur, who has a 287-15-1 record in 26 years at the school, told the Contra Costa Times. "If we lined up tomorrow and played them, they'd beat us again."
De La Salle players stepped off the team bus looking downcast when they returned home Sunday afternoon. They were greeted by parents and boosters, as well as a white banner reading "We Love Ya Spartans."
"Just because we lost the first game doesn't mean that the rest of the season is gone," senior co-captain Scott Hugo told the newspaper.
Co-captain Anthony Gutierrez said, "It's high school football. Every team loses, our time was bound to come. Too bad it came when we're here."
De La Salle had not lost a game since falling in the 1991 North Coast Section championship game Dec. 7, 1991, when the current seniors on the team were in kindergarten.
Terry Eidson, the team's defensive coordinator, said Bellevue's offense was able to exploit the inexperience of the Spartans' defensive line, which also had been hampered by injuries.
Bellevue's first offensive play resulted in an 74-yard touchdown run.
"Our guys are going to get there, but this was the wrong team to be playing at this time for us," Eidson said. "That's not an excuse. We got our heads handed to us, but they were just more physical. I knew it on the first play."
De La Salle graduated 17 starters from last season's 13-0 team.
"This is a great feeling," Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said after the game. "We worked eight months for this. I don't think we were intimidated coming in and our kids executed. We've said the strength of this team is our offensive line and it was tonight. They spent more time, more hours than anybody. Even De La Salle."
The streak created a near-cult following for Ladouceur. The program at the private, all-boys school in suburban San Francisco has inspired two books, a documentary and national telecasts of games, and last month earned the Spartans a seven-page spread in Sports Illustrated.
The team also suffered off-the-field heartache recently. On Aug. 12, linebacker Terrence Kelly was shot to death in Richmond, 20 miles east of De La Salle's campus, just before he was to leave for the University of Oregon, where he had earned a full football scholarship.
"That's real life," Eidson said. "That's tragedy."
"It puts this loss into perspective," Hugo agreed. "In the grand scheme of things, (losing the game) is not that huge of an event."
Monday Sept. 6, 2004
Copyright 2002-2004 The North East Texas Sports Gazette
Member Texas Sports Writers Association, Football Writers of America Association