WEST LAFAYETTE — It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
An old adage is how members of the Twin Lakes unified flag football program chose to look at its season after an 80-30 West Lafayette Sectional loss to McCutcheon. Part of it was a sense of disappointment in the loss, but head coach Kevin Anderson also thought it was special to end the school’s inaugural season at the place he conceived the program.
“We came a long way, did some really good things,” the coach said. “Did some great things for the kids, for the school, the community,” Anderson said. “From last year’s JV game when I was at this field and got the idea to put the team together, we’ve done a lot of good stuff.”
Sophomore Allie Wisinski compared the team’s first practice and film session to that day’s game.
“It’s crazy, because at first we didn’t know any of the rules,” she said. “Now we’re hopping in on everything.”
Wisinski accounted for an 8-yard catch and 96 rush yards, with a 7-yard rush TD. Her score pulled the Indians (4-4) within 30-18 with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the first half, but Twin Lakes allowed a Mavericks score with 19 seconds until halftime. Anderson’s club again closed within 12 points when Reece Bartlett found Nico Rivera for a 15-yard score and a 36-24 deficit, but the score a minute and a half into the second half was the second-to-last score Twin Lakes attained.
It next one came at the 12:11 mark, and then McCutcheon shut down Twin Lakes’ offense while adding three scores in the final 10 minutes.
“We lost, but that’s OK,” Wisinski said. “Their team was very — like if they did something bad, they were like ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ I fell a lot, and they were all like ‘Oh, my gosh, are you OK?’”
In another instance, Bartlett accidentally tackled a McCutcheon player while going for the player’s flag, and he came back to Bartlett and said, “Hey, man, we’re good. It’s no big deal” after Bartlett apologized.
Bartlett completed 10-of-23 passes for 82 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw scores to Lewis Rivera (six yards), Matt Anderson (one yard) and Rivera (15 yards). Nico caught three balls for 71 yards, with two touchdowns.
Matt Anderson was 1 for 2 for 35 yards; the junior also caught six passes for 32 yards.
Twin Lakes was without senior Madi Green, who missed the contest because she was taking an SAT exam. Coach Anderson admitted “we kinda missed her,” but added the multi-sport athlete’s academics were more important. He also thought about a brief interaction with Bartlett, and a smile emerged.
“Reece told me before the game — it was a quick conversation — this was his dream,” coach Anderson said. “He wanted to play for his school, to play for a sectional championship. He got to do that.
“Without this opportunity, he never would have been able to do that.”
Wisinski nearly teared up thinking about the season that was, and the future. Green is the only person slated to leave the roster, and there are plans to expand the team.
“I think we all grew as a team,” Wisinski said, catching her breath slightly. “I’ve already said, ‘Sign me up next year, coach.’”