However, in this game, just like in this season, the Royals didn’t make excuses, they fought back, and they almost won a title. And considering all that this team went through during the off-season, that’s a testament to their maturity.
How many teams can go through the off-season that the Roayals endured- having their iconic coach Bob Oliva step away in the midst of controversy, having a new coach, Athletic Director Joe Arbitello step in- and still wind up on the cusp of the city championship?
It turns out the Royals even shocked themselves with their success.
“At the start of the season, I didn’t think we’d get this far.” Maurice Barrow said after the Royals knocked off Loughlin to advance to the final.
“I just wanted a good year,” Arbitello said, “Whatever that entailed.”
It turns out a that a good year meant winning the Brooklyn-Queens championship for the first time in three years, and winding up only a few defensive stops away from a city title.
And while the Royals might be disappointed- Johnson lamented being unable to carry the team on his shoulders- they still can reflect on their accomplishments: 25-4, Bojangles tourney champs, Brooklyn-Queens Champs, Intersectional Finalists.
Said Johnson, the CHSAA MVP: “I still feel like a champion.”
And that has their coach pretty proud.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Arbitello said after the game. “It could have been a horrible year. Their maturity is amazing. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Well, maybe we’ll ask for one more thing, coach: what do you think about next year?
“We’re ready to go.” Arbitello said. “Next year’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m pretty happy for next year.”