“It was one of those weird days that we weren’t playing great, and they were playing great,” Director of Admissions Mr. Marc Shaw said.
“We get down to the game, and I’m afraid we were a bit too cocky and didn’t take the game seriously enough and lost,” Vice President Dr. Douglas Laurie said.
On November 13, 1987, the American Heritage football team, rated first in the state at the time, traveled to the Florida Keys to play district opponent and No. 4 ranked Marathon. Under the “dim lights and crappy field,” Mr. Shaw explained, the Patriots struggled offensively, fumbling the ball four times, and ended up losing 13-7.
Back then, only the district winner advanced to the state playoffs, unlike the system today which has the top two teams in each district advance to the playoffs. With that loss, the 1987 team, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A, and undefeated with a record of 8-0, had its dream of winning a state championship cut short.
The 1987 team, coached by Brian VanGorder, who is now the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, hoped to capture the school’s first state title. The hopes and dreams of the 1987 team were shattered on that unlucky Friday the 13th night.
Now every November 13th is a reminder of what could have been. “For awhile, but now not as much as we used to, we’d all call each other and text each other on Nov. 13 (every year),” Mr. Shaw said.
The yearly reminder that was initially a sour feeling turned into more of a joke that the players on the 1987 team look back on and laugh about. “At first it was bad. It was sad. But then it has become more of a joke. We always harass Mark McIntosh because he didn’t fumble, but a play was called a fumble, so we tease him that he fumbled away the game,” Mr. Shaw said.
Mr. Shaw was a senior and captain on the 1987 team alongside Dr. Laurie, the son of President and Founder Mr. William Laurie. McIntosh and Richard Koerner were the other two senior captains on the team. Back then teams were smaller in size and were only comprised of 25-35 kids. Most of the players played on both sides of the ball and rarely got breaks during the game. Mr. Shaw played center, middle linebacker and special teams, while Dr. Laurie played guard, linebacker, nose guard and special teams.
The friendships and memories from the 1987 season still last today. Brian VanGorder was the best man at several of his former players’ weddings. Mr. Shaw and Dr. Laurie were each other’s best man.
“It was a wonderful season. It was a wonderful experience playing football here. I made life long friends,” Dr. Laurie said.
“During college and after college we all traveled together. The bond that we had, these are still my best friends 27 years later,” Mr. Shaw said.
Although Nov. 13 was initially a bad reminder of a day that cut the 1987 team’s dream short, it is now a reminder of the long lasting friendships that were built on that team.
Times have changed, but some memories last forever.
“The school was much smaller back then. There were less than 100 people in my graduating class. It was a much different time. There was no Internet, no cell phones. MTV actually showed videos,” Dr. Laurie joked.
“It’s a nostalgia that lives with you the rest of your life,” Mr. Shaw said, reflecting on all the good memories from playing football at AHS.