The word "TEAM" has never meant more to a group of high school football players than it has to the 2003 Piqua Indians. Many times through the season, this team could have folded up the tents and packed it in, but they displayed grit and resiliency throughout the entire year to finish with a misleading 5-5 record.
Four of the Indians' five losses were by a combined 5 points, many of those games decided on the last play of the game. Three of those defeats were one-point losses, which only proves thier record wasn't an indication of how good this team actually was.
The 2003 Indians could have easily been 8-2 or even 9-1 and made the state playoffs. Instead, they took the cards they were delt and never made excuses…even when they had every right to.
For instance, after it looked as though the Indians pulled out a huge win over Northmont in week four when Ben Burnside's apparent touchdown was rulled a fumble, the Indians never made any excuses. Instead, they refocused on what was ahead of them and moved on.
Another example of team character occured the following week in a 31-30 loss to Vandalia Butler. The Indians narrowly missed on a PAT which would have tied the game. Instead of dwelling on the one play, coach Nees kept his team focused on the big picture.
"This is just going to make this team stronger and bring them closer," Nees said at the time. "This is a great group of kids. They are really working hard."
"You make your own luck," Nees continued. "There were a number of plays out there where we had opportunities. There is that risk every time you go out on the football field that you might not win."
Despite the narrow defeats, the Indians did capture some memorable wins in 2003.
They started the season with a 27-14 thumping over Grove City in which the Tribe erupted for 369 yards of offense. Brian Snyder had a huge night with 156 yards on the ground and a 90-yard run to seal the game in the fourth quarter. The win over Grove City gave coach Nees his 100th victory of his career at Piqua.
In week three the Indians showed heart and toughness in a 7-6 win over Kettering Fairmont in front of a packed house at Alexander Stadium. The Indians held on after a late touchdown by the Firebirds had threatened to send the game into overtime. But, Piqua's Ryan Karn snuck through the Fairmont line to get his hands on the PAT attempt to salvage the victory.
The biggest win of the season was in week six against arch rival Troy. Bad weather halted the game in the first quarter and forced the two teams to wait 24 hours to continue the contest. When all was said and done, the Indians walked off Troy's home field with a 10-3 win and a 57-56-1 lead in the series.
After back-to-back heartbreakers to Wayne and Trotwood, Piqua bounced back to close out the season with a 13-0 shutout over Sidney and a 55-6 thrashing of Greenville.
Although the 2003 Indians didn't match the success of playoff teams from the past, the seniors did leave behind a legacy of unity for the younger players who will take over the program in years to come.
To relive each game from the 2003 season, select the result from the schedule above.