City of Richmond had never won a football title till Saturday
RICHMOND — In between the lines, Chad Nightingale is a man of many words, the sidelines serving as the soapbox through which he can flex his vocal muscles.
But as he stood in front of his players following a 37-18 victory over Bishop Union to capture the Division 6-A championship, Nightingale’s cadence shifted.
Nightingale first reflected on just how far this team had come over the last three years, citing a blowout loss Salesian suffered to Archbishop Riordan two years prior as a point of reference.
Then, Nightingale spoke from the heart and the divide between coach and player evaporated.
“You were the only guys I wanted to coach.”
Nightingale tried to hold down the tidal wave of emotion that had been cresting since the final seconds officially ticked away and the Pride officially became state champions, but it had finally come to a crescendo. As the tears broke free from the cornea and welled to the surface, his sentences became no more than a string of words that had no true end.
After a 15-game season resuscitating a vernacular unique to that of those who draw x’s and o’s, Nightingale had nothing left to say. But by not saying anything, he said everything. The love was palpable, and everyone who donned the red, white and black were content to relish in it.
“You just know all the love he has for us,” said Ronald Robertson, one of Salesian’s nine seniors.
This wasn’t’ just the football state championship in program history, but the first football state championship in Richmond’s history. The city has no shortage of state titles from other sports, but neither Salesian nor Kennedy nor Richmond had ever brought home a state title in football. Until Saturday afternoon.
“We’re a community school and the majority of our kids are community kids. I couldn’t be happier for the program. I couldn’t be happier for my city. This is where I live, this is where I work. I’m just very happy for everybody because of that,” Nightingale said.
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