Derrick Minor didn't sleep Friday night. He was sure that's what was going to happen hours before his head hit the pillow.
A head coach of Princeton's winningest football team in school history, Minor could have slept easy with a sense of accomplishment even though Princeton fell to Wallace-Rose Hill in the third round of the 1AA playoffs Friday night. However, his thoughts centered on his time with a baker's dozen of a senior class coming to a close.
Minor, in a small way, thought not going to sleep might keep the likes of Bobby Bradley. Jordan Craft, Robert Edwards, Cody Garner, Johnny Frasier, Matthew Hewett, Vincente Mendez, Jared Pearce, Quinton Rhue, Jeremy Wells, Tanner Woodard, Waylon Woodall and Michael Wooten in the blue and gold for another season.
"I don't think I'll sleep tonight," Minor said. "Because I realize that my time with these kids — these 13 seniors — is done. It's like someone stealing your child. That's what these guys are to me, my children.
"What made them so special is we never had to worry about them as coaches. We knew they were going to do what they needed to do in the classroom, the weight room, in the community and on the field. It was really an unforgettable group in that sense."
The class of 2015 went 24-15 in helping Minor establish a new 1A football power in eastern Johnston County. More impressively, the Bulldogs are 7-3 in the playoffs (a .700 winning percentage) during that span.
"These seniors took their lumps as sophomores and got that big game experience that has helped us the last two years," Minor said.
The 12 wins this season are the most by a Princeton football team in school history. The run of 2014 will be long remembered, as will the run from a team that went 2-8 in the regular season but made a run all the way to a regional championship in 2012.
Statistically, Princeton's run over the last three years is noteworthy as well. Senior running back Johnny Frasier ran for 7,111 yards with the help of a talented group of offensive linemen leading the way. Frasier notched his 100th career rushing touchdown as well in his prep finale. With a scholarship waiting from the likes of Florida State, his future in football is very bright.
There were other superlatives as well.
"Mike Wooten went over 2,000 yards passing tonight and that's a huge accomplishment," Minor said. "And the performances of guys like Cody Garner, (Adrian) Whack and on and on will never be forgotten around here."
Those aren't what Minor expects will be the greatest accomplishments for this group.
"The future looks so bright for all of these kids," he said. "Whether its football or college or a career, we tried to prepare them to be successful. I know in football so much of what you do is judged on that won-loss record, but the integrity these young men have is a more important way to judge success."