MARSHALL-It all ended with a hug.
Coach Terry Bahlmann embraced his quarterback and his son, Brad Bahlmann after the Marshall Tigers lost to Waseca Blue Jays 28-14 in the semifinals of the Section Class 4A Section 2 playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
Some hoped that hug would come the following weekend, possibly after a game against Hutchinson, or at the end of a state tournament run.
Instead, it came on the five-yard line on the north end of Mattke Field on Saturday at 4:03 p.m. as members of the Bahlmann family looked on from the stands. It came after the coach addressed his senior players. He spoke to them as a group first and then talked to each one of them individually. There were the lineman, Brent Andries, Kyle Wischer, Reagan Wartner, Spencer Aufenthie, and Brandon Deutz that Coach Bahlmann often said they were most pivotal players on the field.
There was wide receiver Adam Schultz and tight end Aaron Polejewski. Both of them were asked to step up that afternoon in the absence of their injured leading receiver, Drew Hmielewski. They helped get the Tigers have their best receiving game of the year.
There were the guys who gave opposing QB's nightmares, John Lothert and Tom Roelfsema. The two combined for over ten sacks this season.
There were the stalwarts, Jack Bock, Colin VanKeulen, and Collin Reilly, who could be counted on to make the plays on the field and provide the leadership off of it.
There was running back Sam Marshall, who had one of the best seasons for a Tiger running back, ever.
And then there was Brad Bahlmann, who dominated on both sides of the ball all season. He had over fifty tackles and 17 touchdown passes this season. He threw for 210 yards and made four solo tackles that afternoon.
"I'm very proud of this group of young men. They were a great group to coach and made a truly great team. We're going to miss the seniors," said Terry Bahlmann.
After the seniors boarded the bus, Terry made the long walk across the field, through the bleachers and up the stairs to the press box. It was a walk he had made four times already this season, but it seemed extra long and extra lonely on Saturday afternoon.
As members of the Southwest Minnesota State football team warmed up for their game and Waseca fans reveled in their win, Terry was alone with his thoughts.
Maybe he was thinking about how his team let a 7-6 halftime lead slip away after the Blue Jays piled on 22 points in the third quarter.
Maybe he was thinking why this game turned out differently than their Oct. 3rd 35-6 victory against Waseca.
Maybe he was thinking about the Tigers last chance when they blocked a punt with a few minutes to go, but were unable to convert it into a score.
Maybe he was thinking about the crazy start to the game which featured a fumble by the Tigers on the opening kickoff, but an interception on the very next play.
Or maybe, just maybe, he was thinking about his son and his team and what a great season it was.