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Senior players miss out on special moment after final football game is forfeited

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
(Source: Riesel ISD) (Source: Riesel ISD)
RIESEL, TX (KXXV) -

It was a sad moment for eager seniors who were ready to leave it all on the field for the final game of their high school football career.

"My heart sank, to be honest, but it happens," said Rick Ortega, senior on the Itasca High School football team. 

On Nov. 10, the Riesel Indians were set to host the Itasca Wampus Cats, up until the announcer told the crowd that the referees were a no-show. Without officials, Riesel was forced to forfeit the game.

Ortega said he and his teammates were ready to win. They were running plays, stretching and preparing to face their opponent.

"Then we went into the locker room and it just took a little longer than normal," said Ortega. "That's when coach came in and told us the news."

"It was hard," said Kevin Auten, head football coach for Itasca. "You know, that last buzzer, you want to make sure your seniors are on the field."

Auten said there are two seniors on the team, including one who's been there for all four years.

"If you're not going on to play at the next level, which doesn't happen for most people, the memories are what you have," said Auten.

Robert Little, head football coach for RHS, took to the Riesel ISD Facebook page to share what happened with the game. He mentioned in his post that it was an error made by the Texas Association of Sports Officials, whose employees failed to put the final game in their system.

Brad Strickland, the president of the Waco Chapter of TASO, said both sides are to blame. While TASO did forget to input the final game, Little had access to the online schedule the whole time. Strickland said he could've seen the game was missing weeks ago.

"We're human and things happen. Coach Little does a great job and loves what he does," said Auten. "His kids were affected too. I know none of us would ever do anything to hurt our players."

Thankfully, athletes know how to dust themselves off and keep going.

"All the players went down there and walked the field together so they could have one last time out there," said Auten.

"Just hold on to the memories you have," said Ortega. "It was a great season."

Ortega hopes to play football at Sam Houston State University after graduation. 

The Riesel Indians are now moving on to the playoffs.

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