Ben Davis stood on the sideline. His helmet was off, his high school football career was over.
The Columbian quarterback's face told the story. His squad had played valiantly against Avon in the Division II regional finals in Fremont, rallying from a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie the score.
But Avon came back, winning 35-21.
When Brian Colatruglio was asked who might be the best to give a player's perspective after the loss, he said Davis would be a good person to talk to. When Davis came out, I peppered him with a number of questions. It couldn't have been easy, but Davis fielded every one. It was impressive, but also fitting.
Davis was continuing what he and his teammates had been doing all year: answering.
It started back in August. How would the Tornadoes respond after losing quarterback Ryan Tittle, running back Derrick Golliday, receiver Jesse Hernandez and lineman Caden Chapman off a regional final qualifying team?
Players like Davis, Jack Jacoby, Jonah Boyer and Carter Mullins more than answered the call.
The questions kept coming.
Will Columbian be able to get into the playoffs after losing to Bellevue and Sandusky?
Will Columbian travel to Sandusky and win, two weeks after losing there to the Blue Streaks in the regular season?
Can Columbian hang with No. 5 Avon in the regional finals?
The Tornadoes answered all those questions affirmatively. But then there was another question: How will TC respond after trailing 21-7 at halftime to the Eagles?
Colatruglio answered that one.
"Our guys are fighters," he said. "Down 21-7, down whatever we were in other games, backs against the wall and we always came out fighting. I didn't expect anything less than that."
Davis said the Tornadoes didn't lose confidence.
"We have the no-quit mentality," Davis said. "They're gonna score on us. We knew that. We came in. We were able to answer, not just tonight but all year we were able to provide answers."
After a pair of Jack Jacoby touchdowns tied the score at 21, Avon took the lead again on a touchdown with 9:01 left. There was plenty of time for the Tornadoes, and they drove into Eagle territory.
But TC had run out of answers. Davis was intercepted on a fourth and long, Avon added another touchdown and the TC season ended.
And with Boyer, Davis, Mullins and defensive standout Daniel Wood all graduating, there are sure to be new questions about the Tornadoes next year.
Davis said TC will be ready.
"I'm telling you right now there's sophomores and juniors in that locker room right now who are very hungry, just like we were last year," Davis said.
With the way this program continues to bounce back and deliver, doubting it would be foolish.
And there's no question about that.