He didn’t play because he felt he owed it to himself, his coaches or his school.
No, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Belcher played because he wanted to be a part of the team, to go to battle each week with the teammates he’s grown to respect and love over the years.
So when the Lakers suffered a heartbreaking 14-8 loss at the hands of the Shelby Tigers on Friday — a loss that will almost certainly keep the Lakers out of the state playoffs — Belcher took it upon himself to keep things in perspective.
“I wouldn’t want to go out any other way than right here with my teammates,” Belcher said. “It was an awesome season. We worked hard all summer, we got off to a bad start, but the last five weeks have been amazing. We just came up a little short.
“When we look back at this, we’re going to cherish it. When I look back at my high school football career, I’m not going to look back at this one moment.
“Now I’m going to go in there and tell every single one of my teammates that I love them to death.”
What made Friday’s loss so painful was that the Lakers (5-4) came so very close to pulling out a win.
The Lakers had a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Charlie Warber took a big hit as he crossed the Shelby 20-yard line and coughed up the ball.
That led to a long drive by the Tigers, who eventually scored on a 36-yard pass play from quarterback Spencer Peters to wide receiver Shane Kajtazi, who was wide open behind the Lakers’ defensive secondary.
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