The Pioneer football team headed to the locker room on Friday night with one half left to go on the season – more or less. The Pioneers trailed Monroe 21-6 and a loss would mean three losses in four games and another lost season for a team trying to get back to the playoffs.
Head coach Bill Bellers stood up in front of the team and didn’t go over strategy or talk about mistakes or what they needed to do better in the second half. Instead, he told them what he thought of them.
“I told them that I trusted them,” Bellers said, after the Pioneers’ comeback win in overtime over the visiting Trojans. “I told them that I believe in them. I knew they were good enough to win this football game. There was no panic. We have done this before this year. This wasn’t the first time we had been here and we had proven before we could do it.
“I told them that the coaches believe in them and they need to believe in themselves and go out there and win this football game.”
And that’s exactly what the Pioneers did. They rallied late to tie the game – first scoring a TD and then adding the two points – and then won it in overtime. Trust goes along way with the Pioneers – all the way to the win column.
Big plays help create big wins. And there was no bigger play than Owen Aldridge’s interception for a TD with 3:44 to play in the game that cut Monroe’s lead to one point.
“That was huge for several reasons,” Bellers said. “We needed to keep them out of the end zone but they also were milking the clock. They did not want our offense on the field and we were running out of time at that point. It was a great strategy by them to keep running and eating time off the clock.
“But it turned around when they were forced to pass. Then Owen gets the interception, finds a lead blocker out front and runs it all the way back. That was huge.”
Pioneer gave up a quick touchdown to the Trojans to fall behind by eight points. The good news was the Pioneers had the ball. The offense was coming back on the field – something the visitors didn’t want to see.
“We just knew it was ours to get,” Bellers said. “We had been here before and we knew our offense could take it down and score. There was no panic. No worries. Not only do we practice the 2-minute drill, we’ve successfully done it in multiple games so we had that experience and that confidence.”
Bellers says there are times when you just know you are going to win a game and that was one of those times.
“Our record is only 2-2 but this team is pretty special,” he said. “They never quit. We had some injuries and other guys come in and step up. They just believe they can win and it doesn’t matter what the score is or how much time is left in the game. They believe in themselves.”
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion for the Pioneers, who rallied to take the lead in Chelsea in the final minute only to lose the game in the final seconds.
“To go from that low and pick ourselves up and get to here is amazing,” Bellers said. “To go so fast from such a low to such a high is really a credit to how special these players are. It was tough at the start of the week (to put the Chelsea loss behind them) but they eventually did and we had some of our best practices leading up to this game.”
Good practices are important. But so is trust and belief and family.
The family gathers at home tonight (Sept. 27) to face Skyline.