They have trailed at halftime in seven of their 12 games this season.
The Lions have won five of them.
Goddard High will face Bishop Miege in the Kansas Class 4A state championship football game Saturday in Topeka. The stage won’t be too big for the Lions, even as Miege goes for its fifth straight title.
“A lot of on the sideline at half, even though we’re down, we’re not scared,” senior Adam Walock said. “We believe that we can pull it out every game.”
Goddard has gone through the fire and come out the other side as maybe the scrappiest team in Kansas. Against previously undefeated McPherson, the Lions were backed into their red zone three times and didn’t give up a point against a record-setting Bullpups offense.
On McPherson’s last drive, junior Kaeden Hoefer tipped a pass to the end zone, and senior Gentry Cole made a diving interception to seal the 15-14 win. It was the Lions’ fourth game decided by four points or fewer.
This is Goddard’s second trip to a state championship game in the past three seasons. In 2016, the Lions lost 35-34 to Mill Valley in double overtime. They hope 2018 goes better, but the odds will be against them — as they have been for most of the season.
Miege enters the title game with two losses for the first time during its streak, but the Stags have beaten the likes of Blue Valley North, who will play for the 6A title, undefeated Louisburg and one-loss Basehor-Linwood.
Miege lost to Aquinas, which is playing for the 5A title Saturday afternoon, and Rockhurst, which plays for the Missouri Class 6 title Saturday night.
Goddard senior Spencer Steele said his team isn’t going to beat itself up before the game even kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hummer Sports Complex.
“I’ve been excited since Friday night on the bus ride home,” he said. “Every day, I’ve just been pumped even knowing that it was still a week away. I’ve just been so ready.”
The Lions will likely have a familiar face in the stands. Scott Vang coached Goddard for six seasons until he took the athletic director position at El Dorado ahead of the 2018-19 school year. He and coach Tom Beason helped put the Lions on the map, and he said he isn’t surprised to see Goddard back in the title game in Beason’s first year.
“I would tell them, ‘Show up and play your tails off like you’ve always done, and make them beat us,’” Vang said. “Miege will probably be picked to win, and that goes without saying, but one thing about Goddard kids that I know is that they always show up and compete.”
Goddard might, and likely will, trail at some point Saturday. The comeback has been part of the Lions’ DNA this season, and Beason said doing it again will be nothing new.
“I don’t think the expectations this year were to be the team we turned into,” Beason said. “But we’re still very evolved from where we were. We didn’t have games where we beat people 60-12 like we have the past few years.
“And I think that says a lot about the kind of kids that we have right now. We may not be as good as our talent level has been, but that doesn’t take away from how hard they’re working. They’ve earned it. They’ve earned it.”