The huddle is a sacred place in football; one where the team and game are the only things that count. We’re going inside the huddle by talking to football players on the POWERADE FAB 50 teams to find out their most valuable lessons learned -- on or off the field -- that contribute to their success.
Senior wide receiver Raphael "Ralph" Andrades of Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) discusses how it felt when his season and career ended unexpectedly. A 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, Andrades has a 3.7 grade average and designs on majoring in law or sports medicine and holds scholarship offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Stanford and Vanderbilt.
Expectations ran high for the defending Class 4A state champion Trojans, particularly in the eyes of Andrades, whose 35 receptions, 750 yards and 12 touchdowns had helped drive the squad to such success in 2010. Andrades' numbers were good at 38 catches for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns this fall, but that didn't matter to him as much as the season's finish that came in the first round of the playoffs.
The Trojans lost their second game of the season, but ran off eight consecutive victories before being upended, 39-29, by Fleming Island (Orange Park, Fla.) in the playoffs.
"We'd start off on our own 10 or on our own 20, and we weren't really moving the ball at all on offense. I could sort of see it in my teammates eyes that we were getting frustrated," said Andrades of the recent playoff loss. "You could tell that the team didn't come ready to play. It was really hard to keep the team calm, being in the playoffs."
It was not until the Trojans had returned home that everyone realized, particularly the seniors, that their seasons and prep careers were truly over.
"After the game, we take the buses back to the school, and coach puts us on these benches and talks to us after every game. He talks about next week and the next game coming up. That's when it hit me, that it was over," said Andrades, whose Trojans lost a first-round game for the first time since 1996.
"He was basically telling the seniors that this was the end of our legacy, and that now we have to move on with our lives and to start our offseason workouts. Honestly, coming off of the state championship season, our team thought that everything was going to be given to us. Like it would come easily. We learned that as a team, you have to be all-in with your efforts as a team to get where you want to be."
ROLE MODEL: Jesus Christ: "Honestly, without him, I would be nothing. I know that I have to play for him each and every game because he's the one who gave me my strength and abilities."