If winning a back-to-back championship isn't hard enough, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks have managed to three-peat for the Southland Conference Title.
The only thing making it that much better winning a third consecutive SLC title, was having a Coliseum record where 7,328 people crammed in to witness history in record breaking fashion.
“That was electric,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “I think back to my Big 12 days. That was as good as an environment as I'd been in, in a long, long time. I was told at lunch the fire marshals shut the doors. They didn't let anymore in.”
While some final scores through conference play gave the impression that wins came easy to the ‘Jacks, that was nothing but an illusion.
“People have no idea, but conference play is hard, it's a grind, it's 18 games,” said Underwood.
18 games that SFA walked away from with a 17-1 record.
“This team has got much, much better every single day and that's the culmination you feel when you hold that trophy up and you say, ‘Wow, this team has accomplished a lot,'” said Underwood.
While this habit of excellence is rare, most of these players don't know anything outside of winning.
“Just lots of excitement, the thrill to love the game, just knowing it was my third conference championship in my third year here,” said junior Trey Pinkney.
As some will continue orchestrating school history, for others it was their final call.
“It was very emotional. It's the last game I'll ever play here,” said senior Jacob Parker. “Whenever I was brought here, there was already a winning culture established. So just continuing on that and building it up, that was the goal just to win championships, and these past three years that's what we've done.”
“It's what we're building. It's what we're trying to make our program all about and winning three in a row is a special thing few people, few programs, can say they've done before,” said junior Thomas Walkup.
When asked if winning against long-time rival Sam Houston State made clinching the title that much sweeter, Parker responded in predictable Lumberjack fashion.
“Absolutely,” said Parker. “Sam is always a rivalry game. It's a great feeling.”
Had the ‘Jacks not won, they would have shared the title with Sam Houston State, but that was never an option for Underwood's vision
“We're not settling for second when first is available,” said Underwood.
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