A turnaround season for Rosepine came to a close Friday night against Red River in the Class 2A playoffs.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Bulldog defense kept the Rosepine offense at bay to win 38-24 in the second round playoff game at Rosepine High School.
"The kids played extremely hard," Rosepine head coach Johnny Cryer said. "We were kind of outmatched, and we knew that going into the game. We fumbled the ball right before half, and it took them a minute to score. They went up 24-16. The kids fought back. It just went back-and-forth. I'm proud of kids' effort and how they played. We hung in there for four quarters and played good football. We didn't get the result we wanted, but I'm extremely proud of the effort."
The Eagles had just 209 yards in offense compared to 333 from Red River, despite controlling the clock.
"We knew going in that they had a lot of talent on the offense, but that was the best defense we had played all year," Cryer said. "We were still able to find ways to score, and we were able to throw the ball a little bit. I think we ran around 60 plays and the time of possession was in our favor. Everything was working out, except the score board. We had a couple of fumbles that hurt us."
After trailing 24-16 heading into the break, Rosepine quarterback Seth Ducote hit Dylan Callaway with a 31-yard touchdown pass, followed by a 2-point run by Seth Shirley to tie the game.
However, Red River running back Demontae Cahoun took a handoff 80 yards to the house on the next possession to give the Bulldogs a 6-point lead.
Red River quarterback Gakerreon McDonald scored in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard for the game's final score as the Bulldogs advanced to the next round.
Seth Shirley led the rushing attack for the Eagles, racking up 86 yards, while Ducote passed for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while running a score.
Rosepine entered the 2017 season on a 20-game losing streak, a far cry from where it finished, and Cryer hopes his younger guys will build off this season.
"I told the senior after the game that they had went 1-30 over the last three years, and to come out and win 10 games has set the foundation for the kids coming up now," Cryer said. "I think Rosepine football is back, and I think we have a lot of good kids coming back. But we're going to miss the seniors. I was proud of them, because they're going down as the only team to win 10 games. They just gave great effort, and we have a lot to build on.
"I told them that, this year, they have made a lot of memories. We got the Big Dog Trophy back home and a district championship in the trophy case. They were disappointed but I told them that they have a lot to be proud of."
Cryer has made many stops in his coaching career, but has spent 15 of them in Rosepine and says this year was one of the best he has had.
"This is by far the best season I've been part of, strictly because we didn't have the talent that some of the other teams that came through Rosepine did, but the kids bought in," Cryer said. "We got better each week, and this ranks up near the top. We were probably outmatched in 10 of the 12 games we played in, but found a way to win."
Not only does Cryer say the football team is back but also the community and backing of the team.
"The community and fans have bought into the program, also. They've done it since day one, and I'm glad to see everybody is back on the same page, since going through what they've gone through the last three years," he said. "The booster club is up and running, and people are excited again. I think things are only going to get better."