November 4, 2022

The Thrills of Victory and The Agony of Defeat

3.4 min read| Published On: November 4th, 2022|

By Kyle Coppola

The Thrills of Victory and The Agony of Defeat

3.4 min read| Published On: November 4th, 2022| 4 Comments|

Anyone who has ever played a sport knows about the thrills of victory and the agony of defeat.

These words have stood the testament of time! This exact statement could describe so much that happened during the final seconds of The Villages vs Eustis Football game this past Tuesday. With time winding down in the 4th quarter The Villages was down 29-22 and driving to tie the game. Danny Bitting was encouraging his boys to muster up any strength they had left to try and win the game

On multiple plays it appeared the game was over including a few 4th down conversions that kept The Villages season alive to that point. Bitting got The Buffalo down inside the 20 yard line with time winding down. On a 3rd down play the clock was at 40 seconds. Bitting scrambled to get out of bounds but was brought down in bounds. The Buffalo without timeouts had no choice but to throw a Hail Mary ball to the end zone and pray for someone to catch it.

On the other side of the football Eustis was 1 play away from going to the playoffs. The amount of pressure on the sideline must have been enormous. If they let The Villages score the likelyhood of making the playoffs went from 100% down to less than 20%.

The ball was hiked with 10 seconds remaining. Bitting scrambling as the clock counted down to 0. The offensive line gave Bitting almost no time the entire night but on this particular play Bitting had all the time he wanted. Bitting spotted a target in the end zone and it was Michael Florian. Bitting threw the ball and for a moment it looked like Florian and Bitting were going to have that incredible thrill of a job well done.

However the ball went from in the grasp of the wide receiver to the ground. To say the emotions in the stadium went from jubilation to utter disbelief and then to sadness all in the span of 1 second is an understatement. Meanwhile it was pandemonium and happiness on the Eustis sideline as The Panthers knew they were playoff bound!

The scenes that happened after the conclusion of the game were one of the saddest, toughest scenes I’ve ever witnessed in a program. After all was said and done Eustis broke down their huddle and ran to the bus in absolute happiness. Meanwhile many Villages players stayed on the field. Many of them crying, some looking for an absolution that would never come. The last player to come off the field was Danny Bitting.

He stood there he crouched and was deep in thought. I didn’t bother him, didn’t even cross my mind to interview him. I didn’t have to. I knew exactly what he was feeling. Anyone who’s been in his position knows the type of feeling you get when you feel like all the pressure and weight was on your shoulders.

Bitting was consoled at times by teammates but he never moved. You can tell this game meant everything to Bitting. He knew what this loss meant and so did coach Pettus of The Villages. I talked to the head coach of The Villages after the loss and all he could say as he fought back tears was that “he was sorry for his boys” “sorry they wouldn’t experience playoff football” I really felt for them. This is a team that’s made the playoffs the last 5 seasons and now all that’s left of the season is senior night.

Turning to leave the field I looked back one more time at Bitting still crouched. A Eustis player walked up and consoled the emotional quarterback. It was difficult to make out the number and if I get the player wrong my apologies but I believe it was Eustis Senior Guard #68 Chase Reisman. It wasn’t a long exchange but it was emotional because he was the only player other than The Villages athletes and staff to come console Bitting.

That moment really touched me. I didn’t even have the chance to get a photo of the moment but take my word for it if you could have seen it that’s what true sportsmanship is about. More than sportsmanship that’s what being human is about. That’s about the most down to earth human thing I’ve seen in a long time. I commend the young man of Eustis for coming over and doing that. I hope Bitting can look back at that moment even in the angst of everything and appreciate it.

Bitting is just a Junior. He will learn, and become a better quarterback and person from this game. This isn’t the last time you’ll hear about Danny Bitting. His story is just beginning as are so many on The Villages and Eustis.

Just goes to show that even in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat great things can come from the most unlikely of people. Best of luck to Eustis in the playoffs and we hope The Villages can go out with a win!

4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Laura Cloukey November 4, 2022 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Great article. Well written and your words captured the moment making me feel I was there and saw it. Great job Kyle.

  2. Avatar
    Mariea November 5, 2022 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    WOW! Kyle great play by play story, I got excited just reading what had happened! This story reminds me of when Jesus healed the three lepers in the Bible and only one returned to say, “THANK YOU” the Eustis player showed great sportsmanship to return to console!!!!

  3. Avatar
    Patti November 5, 2022 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    You story moved me to tears. Now that’s good writing!!

  4. Avatar
    Ralph Smith November 6, 2022 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    This is what Lake County HS sports are all about

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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