After what can only be described as a rough start to the season, the Albany State University Golden Rams ended the season with a flourish, capturing the SIAC conference football championship in a 17-14 win Saturday.
It’s a testament to coach Mike White and his team that they were able to remain focused on their ultimate goal — a conference championship — despite being counted out by many observers following an Oct. 12 loss to Lane that left the Rams with a 1-4 record.
But a funny thing happened. The coach and players never quit believing in themselves. They got up, knocked the turf off and went to playing some big-time college football.
Rolling off four wins in a row against East Division opponents, Albany State found itself in the SIAC championship game in Atlanta against Miles, the West winner with a 6-3 record. Miles had already beaten ASU by eight points earlier in the season and defeated the Rams in the 2011 conference championship match-up.
Sixty minutes and 17 points later, the Golden Rams hoisted the championship trophy.
It was a moment that White, who had SIAC championships under his belt already, clearly savored.
“This is going to stick out,” White told The Albany Herald when asked how his sixth conference championship as coach stacked up against the first five. “This means a lot in terms of what we have been through the whole year.”
Leadership on the sidelines and on the field gave the Rams a fighting chance to make their improbable five-win run.
“Our seniors believed we could get it done,” White said, “and here we are.”
One of those seniors, Dexter Moody, showed some stellar leadership Saturday. He was named MVP for his outstanding effort that included a blocked punt and an end zone interception that the Rams capitalized upon for 10 or their 17 points.
“He put us on his back and made some plays and got momentum going back our way,” White observed, adding he was proud his senior safety who has gotten the attention of NFL scouts preparing for the 2014 draft.
“I am going to remember this one a long time,” Moody said. “It means a lot to me, knowing that we started out 1-4 and a lot of people counted us out.”
Indeed. The easiest thing in the world would have been for these young men to have gotten down on themselves and go through the motions during the last half of the season. But the Rams discovered that adversity can be overcome, and that in overcoming it you can succeed beyond all expectations.
An arduous journey makes the destination sweeter to reach. When others lost faith in them, they had faith in themselves.
The 2013 edition of the Albany State University Golden Rams did just that. They gave the university and our community yet another reason to be proud of them. Congratulations, Rams!
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board