Colton Olson had his head down, helmet in hand as he walked off the field.
A few tears had smeared his eye black, but he wiped them away.
The Spanish Fork football team had just finished its best season ever. And still, best wasn't enough. And that stung the senior receiver more than anything.
"It was a great year," he said. "Even the individual players leaned on their brothers. But we just couldn't get it today."
On Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Dons played for the program's first-ever state title. But after a tie in the first quarter, Dixie took a step ahead and Spanish Fork ended up chasing for the rest of the 49-21 defeat, one that only truly escaped the Dons in the fourth quarter.
Olson had been the senior leader Spanish Fork expected. He was one of quarterback Jason Money's surest targets, tying a title-game record with 11 receptions, and he took those catches 134 yards.
Even on defense, the 5-foot-10 Olson was one of the tougher players to get past, as much as can be said about a team that gives up 49 points. He finished with eight tackles and a pass breakup.
After the game, coach Kirk Chambers said seniors like Olson had propped up the team and given the Dons a shot. The hardest part for him was watching the trophy go to another hard-working group of upperclassmen.
"Our seniors have been the heart and soul of this team," Chambers said. "We're surely going to miss them. I'm very dejected they didn't leave here with a win. It just breaks my heart."
Depending on what happens with Spanish Fork during realignment the Dons straddle the line between 4A and the new 3AA class it could be the closest it comes to a title for a while.
But Olson was hopeful the precedent he and his mates had set would outlast them.
"I think this is good," Olson said. "The underclassmen can step up and get back here. They can realize they can do it if they work hard."
Colton Olson a bright spot in defeat
• Senior receiver ties a title-game record with 11 catches.
• Olson finishes with 134 receiving yards.
• On defense, he also has eight tackles and a pass breakup.