MURPHYSBORO — The 2019 Murphysboro Red Devils are a team destined to stand the test of time.
The Red Devils team captured the hearts of their community while earning the 2019 IHSA Class 4A Football Championship runner up trophy.
While the Richmond-Burton Rockets defeated the Red Devils during last night’s championship game against the backdrop of a misty Huskie Stadium in Dekalb, the community has rallied behind the team’s success until the very end.
Multiple officials from surrounding communities have reached out during the Red Devil’s playoff run offering their support, said Will Stephens, the mayor of Murphysboro.
“This is something not only Murphysboro has focused on, but also all of southern Illinois,” Stephens said, “We don’t send teams to state championships games as much as we used to so this is a real point of pride.”
A season full of twists and turns, including a teacher’s strike causing the team to forfeit a regular-season conference game, made Murphysboro’s road to the state championship one for the history books.
Stephens compared the team’s season much to the trip up to Dekalb for the championship game.
“We had three buses chartered and one broke down,” Stephens said. “We had to shift a few things around to get home.”
As for the team’s impact on the community, Stephens said they will be remembered for a long time and thought of very fondly.
Nancy McNitt, the mother of Murphysboro Red Devils senior defensive end Aidan McNitt, said the strike made the season difficult at first.
“When things like that happen, towns are divided,” McNitt said. “Then they started playing and started shutting people out and started going and winning playoff games.”
You have free articles remaining.
McNitt said each game seemed like it could be the last one, but the Red Devils persevered.
With each game, the community bond in Murphysboro has only grown stronger, McNitt said.
“I’ll have people come up to me and say from an old Red Devil, I want to tell you how proud of this team I am and your son,” McNitt said. “This town, southern Illinois, this place – there’s no place like it.”
Jameirr Frazier, a senior on the Murphysboro Red Devils football team, said the team was hard on themselves going into the game but offered a piece of advice the team carried until the end.
“We gotta go. If we do lose, we can’t lose softly,” Frazier said. “We have to finish strong.”
Despite the result of the championship game, Frazier said the team realized they were making history – this is something no other Murphysboro football team has ever done.
The relationships built through the season have made a life-long impact – especially for the seniors, Frazier said.
“I love my guys. I wouldn’t choose anyone else in this world to play with,” Frazier said. “We’ve been together since sixth grade and some fifth grade. It’s been a long ride.”
The Red Devil’s arrival to the championship game is one of the first in southern Illinois since Du Quoin was named state runner-up in 2008.
As for the team’s impact in the community, “They are going to be remembered a long time in the city of Murphysboro,” Stephens said.
“This is all just a real sense of community,” McNitt said. “It’s been the most amazing ride of our lives – it’s historic.”