Updated: Nov 15, 2018
As with many small programs, the Gilbert Tiger football program is a work in progress, and just like with any small program, they have had to compensate for lack of size, players and funding all season long. Though they are lacking in things that other programs take for granted, they are far from lacking in heart and desire and getting into the playoffs for the Gilbert Tigers was just a long awaited step in the process that this small but talented team has been working through. And for the first time for this coaching staff, and school since 2011, was just the next step in “Trusting the process”.
From the beginning of spring training and all the way to the final whistle of the 2018 football season, Coach Derek Zellner has preached “Trust the process”. A signature line that he repeats constantly in his player talks, team speeches and Twitter posts. But those are not just words to him and his players; it’s a way of life. In most situations, a 4-7 season is not usually considered a ”winning” season, but behind the field leadership of Junior quarterback Will Plummer, this year’s Tigers stepped into the spotlight and reached a level that hadn't been reached for many seasons.
Though it was unfamiliar territory for this program, they wanted to look like they belonged. Busting out to an early 7-0 first possession (2nd play) lead, the #3 ranked Notre Dame Prep Saints looked poised to repeat the shutout performance they put on the Tigers in week 3 of the regular season. The Tigers were determined to not let that happen and took the lead back on their next possession with a 55 yard breakout run by Connor McKernan and 2 point conversion to take the lead 8-7. But it seemed the Tigers just didn’t have an answer for the Saints high energy offense and tough defense. The Saints turned on the jets and scored 39 unanswered points before the Tigers could add 8 more with just 8:04 left in the game.
But a fumble by the Saints on their next possession got the Tigers rolling. Hitting the end zone on a 45 yard strike from Plummer to McKernan, followed by a 44 yard touchdown from Plummer to Elzy. The Tigers were showing signs of the team they knew they were. Though they ran out of time in this game, they be able to look back on this game as not the end of the 2018 season, but the beginning of greater things.
I really just a parent of players on this team, would be wroThanks to all the coaches and parents that support the Gilbert Tigers. I really have enjoyed this season and look forward to the bright future this program will have. Just "Trust the process" and things will work out.