As I sit down on my couch to write this Sunday morning, it’s been approximately 35 hours since the final horn sounded to end the highly-anticipated football showdown between Gilbert and Bondurant-Farrar, two highly-ranked teams in Class 4A. That time has given me a chance to reflect on what transpired and I’ve come up with five “big picture” takeaways.

Some of them you may like. Some of them may make you grumble and want to yell at me. I just hope all of them make you think and reflect as well.

Let’s go.

1. The final score doesn’t tell the story.

To the outsiders, they’ll see that final score — Bondurant-Farrar 38, Gilbert 7 — and think it was a one-sided blowout. The Bluejays dominated, they’ll say, before they cast Gilbert aside as an also ran.

Those outsiders are wrong. Incredibly wrong.

Look, Bondurant-Farrar was the better team over 48 minutes of hard hits. It just was, and that’s OK to admit. The Bluejays have got size, they’ve got depth, and they’ve got talent. Serious talent (I’m talking specifically about you, Titus Cram). They deserved to win the game.

And now comes that BUT …

Gilbert won the first quarter, and through three quarters was in that game. Remember, it was 17-7 entering the fourth quarter, and were it not for a questionable personal foul call that kept a Bluejays’ drive alive late in the third, it very well could have been 10-7 entering those final 12 minutes.

And that brings me to this …

2. The referees did NOT decide the outcome.

If you were in attendance or watched the livestream Friday night, you know there were some eyebrow-raising whistles and flags. The aforementioned personal foul was big, and then the inadvertent whistle on a muffed punt by Bondurant-Farrar took a fumble recovery away from Gilbert and led to one of the Bluejays’ three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Were they factors in the final margin? Yeah, I think you could say that. But did they change which team won the game? Emphatically, no.

Bondurant-Farrar out-gained Gilbert by 300 yards, 425-125, including 264-58 on the ground. The Bluejays limited Gilbert to 1.9 yards per carry.

And that’s why the host team won. Period.

3. One game was lost. The season was not lost.

In your mind, let’s transport ourselves back to August 1 and I’m going to present you with a hypothetical: Going into Week 8 of the regular season, Gilbert owns a 6-1 record. Would you take that?

If you didn’t answer “YES!” immediately, then you may be lying to yourself.

Coming off back-to-back seasons in which the Tigers were a combined 1-17, what head coach Graham Lundt, his coaching staff, and the boys have done this season is nothing short of remarkable. First of all, they put in the time — blood, sweat, and, yeah, there have probably been some tears — and work to make this season a reality. They all deserve a standing ovation and applause until our hands hurt.

One game, one loss, doesn’t dampen everything that came before it, nor does it rip away this team’s primary goal.

The Tigers want to make the playoffs. Sure, a win over Bondurant-Farrar would have made the road a bit more wide open, but a loss certainly didn’t close that road.

There are two big games — two tough games — remaining. Newton and Pella are both very good. But, news flash, Gilbert is a good team too.

Stay focused. Stay hungry. And the rest will take care of itself.

4. Ignore the outside noise.

You could piggyback this onto that last paragraph of the third takeaway.

Look, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise online. People talk, people give opinions, and some people enjoy being outlandish with their words, particularly on Twitter (or X, if you will) when it comes to sports.

My advice to everyone: Ignore it. And, maybe more importantly, don’t feed into it.

Those of us that have watched our boys play this season know we have a good football team. The coaches know it. The players know it. So the harsh words of someone hiding behind a fake name on Twitter who hasn’t seen our boys play mean absolutely nothing.

If the players and coaches can stay focused on the positives and what is ahead, then so should we. It’s as simple as that.

5. We watched two of the state’s best players.

I don’t profess to be a football expert, but I am fairly confident in what I’m about to write: our own Will Hawthorne and Bondurant-Farrar’s Titus Cram will wear football uniforms again after they graduate from high school.

I can’t begin to tell you how fun it was to be on the sideline and watch those two play Friday night. They are both first-team all-state football players, and anyone who thinks differently is just wrong.

There was a play in the third quarter that stands out to me. Cram broke free on a run down the Gilbert sideline, and here came Hawthorne sprinting toward him at an angle. The collision occurred not 3 feet away from me, and the sound it emitted was unbelievable. Not only the  impact, but the grunting from both players … it sounded like two grizzly bears attacking one another.

This was just one of many, many … many times they collided on the night. And on a number of occasions, they patted each other on the helmet after the play was over, the universal football sign of respect for an opponent.

Like I said, it was fun to watch that game within a game.

The entire night was fun (the final score notwithstanding). We all watched two really good 4A football teams. Let’s do it all again next Friday night!