Every adult who called Diamond Hill-Jarvis high school last fall to express their frustration regarding football coach Oscar Castillo should be blowing up the main offices at the school, or emailing him, or texting the man.
Last fall, in his first season as head coach at DH-J, Castillo’s sincere and benign interview with me regarding his team’s losing streak drew the ire of many of the good people in his community to embarrassing lengths.
The school was flooded with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of angry calls expressing their frustration with the man.
Get. Over. Yourselves. Or, better yet, how about you do the job only a crazy person would take.
For those of you who did call, now would be a good time to dial up the school again to say not only you’re sorry, but to thank the man. He and his team just did something that wasn’t impossible, but close.
Every administrator, every coach and every kid associated with Diamond Hill-Jarvis football should be hearing nothing but praise, and recognition for what they did on Thursday night.
The Eagles’ 40-12 win over Dallas Conrad snapped their 77-game losing streak. The Eagles are no longer a threat to break the state record for most consecutive losses, set by Houston Davis from 1985 to ‘93; the national record, we think, is 82, set by Glascock County is Georgia from 1990 to ‘99.
Also, give Conrad coach M.T. Tyeskie substantial credit just for agreeing to schedule the game in the first place; DH-J was having a hard time finding non-district games. Opposing coaches wanted no part of potentially losing to a team that never wins.
On Friday morning at DH-J, principal James Garcia had all of the players walk through the halls of the school to high-five and celebrate with their classmates and teachers. The song “Eye of the Tiger,” from the Rocky III soundtrack, blared over the school public address speakers, as the kids had their moment.
On Friday afternoon, the school district set up a “media availability” for the team, complete with a photo shoot opportunity.
They should all revel in this adulation.
“I am glad this did end because all of those coaches and players had worked so hard; I know this weighed very heavily on them,” Garcia said. “I’m glad it was the first game. I’m glad it wasn’t some lucky, fluke play that gave us the win.
“But it really wasn’t until the game all over, when it hit me: We had not won here in eight years. That’s when I started to feel for all of those players, all of those coaches, all of the people who had been here before and had never won. That this win wasn’t just for our coaches and our players right now, but for the community and all of the kids who had played here before.”
One of those players was Martin Rosales. In 2012 and ‘13, his final two years, he was the Eagles’ starting quarterback. He never won a game.
“I went 0-20. There were guys there who went 0-40,” Rosales said.
Typing that hurt.
“Obviously I feel happy for the kids. Nobody wants to be a part of that bad bit of history; to have that type of losing streak,” said Rosales, 22, who lives in the Diamond Hill area. “It’s good for them and I am sure it’s a weight lifted off their shoulders. When I was playing, we never thought it would go as long as it did.”
When you lose 77 straight, a team is not exactly awash in superlatives. Every player who played, and continually put themselves in position to be trounced but got back up, merits a degree of recognition for having the fortitude to stay with it.
“It teaches you, and it’s incredibly difficult to explain if you’re not a part of it, but those kids got their butts handed to them a lot. It’s just the ‘Don’t Quit’ mentality, and it’s a grind,” Rosales said. “The team is an incredibly tight-knit group of young men who share a very rare bond. I am proud to have played for Diamond Hill, as I’m sure all of my teammates were.”
Diamond Hill, and so many of those coaches and young men never quit, and by doing so they all finally won.