BERLIN — The Ocean Pines Association Board recently presented a plaque and commendation to the Stephen Decatur High School Football team for winning their first-ever state championship.
The SDHS Seahawks finished the season a perfect 14-0, capping off the campaign with a 21-13 win over the Huntingtown Hurricanes on Nov. 30 to capture the MPSSAA 2A Football State Championship title.
OPA President Rick Farr presented the commendation, which read in part, “… the perseverance, talent, and outstanding leadership displayed by each member of the team, coaching staff, and all those who supported them have brought immense pride and honor to the Stephen Decatur High School and the community of Ocean Pines; and their triumph stands as a testament to the power of teamwork, determination, and commitment to achieving greatness both on and off the field … We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the players, coaches, staff, families, and supporters whose dedication and unwavering support contributed to this remarkable success.”
Seahawks Head Football Coach Jake Coleman said it was an honor to be recognized. He added that “an undefeated season is great,” but equally impressive was the resilience shown by his team over their last two games.
Coleman reflected on the 2022 season that ended with a 40-33 loss to Milford Mill Academy, despite having the lead with just 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“That, I think, told us a lot about ourselves,” he said. “We took what we learned … and what we needed to do, and then we approached it for the next 365 days to make those improvements.”
The team once again met Milford Mill late in the season, on Nov. 24. This time, Decatur prevailed 35-34.
“We found ourselves behind after having an early lead. And these guys stuck together, they fought it out, and they ended up defeating the defending state champion,” Coleman said. “That victory right there just says so much about the group of guys and their commitment to each other, their passion and love for each other.”
A week later, the Seahawks faced off against the Huntingtown Hurricanes for the state championship.
“We had our share of calls that didn’t go our way, but these guys never wavered. They stuck together. They are true champions,” Coleman said.
After the title game, Coleman said he talked to his team about what it means to be “a true champion.”
“We love that you guys recognize us … but we want to be humble in these moments and be thankful and be grateful, and we want to conduct ourselves so that we continue to honor you and the community.”
Coleman also thanked members of the community for donating to a Go Fund Me that raised more than $20,000 for state championship rings for all the players and coaches.
“We just appreciate all of your support … it’s been amazing,” he said. “And now we’re going to try and go back-to-back.”