The crisp November air swirled around the silent Durant High School varsity football players as they stretched before their game against King last week.
At stake, a chance to complete the school's first unbeaten regular season and become the only Hillsborough County school to go 10-0 this season.
"This year, the kids have been hungrier and want to do more than last year's team," said head coach Mike Gottman. "They set their sights on bigger and better things."
With each quarter, the growing excitement permeated the sidelines and the stands, but the Cougars stayed calm, stayed in the moment. As the clock began to quickly wind down in those final seconds, there was no question about how thrilled this team felt to go into the playoffs undefeated.
Ten fingers were held in the air by many players, and Gottman felt the cold air after having water dumped on him in celebration after the game.
"It felt good to be a part of school history," said senior captain and defensive back J.J. Garrett.
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Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit will scan the county to focus on the ancillary aspects - players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders - that make prep football in this area "More Than a Game."