John Diarse collapsed into a heap after his team's failed attempt at a last-ditch lateral play as time expired in the Class 4A State Championship game.
He was overcome with emotion, visibly ill with the realization of defeat. It just wasn't something he was used to.
As a freshman in 2009, he helped his Neville team to a state championship. He did it again a year ago, with a 27-6 victory against the same team he played Friday night.
But this time was different. As Edna Karr held the state championship trophy at midfield of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Diarse could only watch from afar as tears streamed down his face.
"As a team we gave all we had," Diarse said. "Coach [Mickey] McCarty preached on effort and finishing. These guys in the locker room did a great job of giving all we had, but we just came up short and ran out of time."
Diarse certainly did all he could to try and lead his team to victory. He was named Neville's Outstanding Player of the Game after completing 10-of-18 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. He added 148 yards on the ground with another score.
His first touchdown came on a 15-yard completion to Andre Fuller that gave Neville a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. His one-yard touchdown run in the closing seconds of the third quarter put Neville ahead 19-15.
"I'm proud of this guy right here," McCarty said of Diarse. "He created a lot of things for us tonight, and made some great plays."
The loss marked a disappointing end to a stellar career for Diarse. He entered his senior season with two state championships, and after leading his team to the Superdome with a perfect 13-0 record, it seemed destined he'd cap off his career with another one.
But it wasn't meant to be for Diarse, though that final disappointment won't be a stain on his Neville legacy. At the end of Neville's postgame press conference, McCarty made it a point to comment on what Diarse has meant to his program.
"He's going out with two championships in his career at Neville," McCarty said. "We couldn't be prouder of him. He's been the face of our program, and he's handled it with a lot of class."
For Diarse, he won't have much time to reflect on what happened Friday night. In a couple weeks, he'll head to San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Then after that, he'll pack his bags and move down to Baton Rouge as an early enrollee.
And when he suits up for his first game with LSU, he'll remember that disappointment of defeat.
"My four years have definitely been a great experience," Diarse said. "It's matured me a lot. I plan on sustaining that maturity and bringing it as I go to LSU….I'm taking this to school with me. It's going to drive me to be one of the best players in the country."
Diarse's Career Ends in Disappointing Defeat
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