Matt Schuckman column sig

A challenge awaits the Quincy Notre Dame athletic administration and Hall of Fame committee in the coming years.

How do they place teams without postseason success alongside those with state trophies?

More specifically, how do they honor two teams considered among the best in their respective program’s histories but were denied the opportunity to compete in the postseason?

It should be an interesting debate.

The QND football and boys soccer teams played at championship-caliber levels this spring, taking the unsavory hand they were dealt by the coronavirus pandemic and refusing to be deterred by it. They played as many games as they were allowed. They played whoever lined up on the other side. They never flinched.

Not once.

This week, the QND football team finished ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 2A state poll, crowning the Raiders as the best regular-season team in the state in that classification. Does that traditionally translate to postseason success? Yes, but not always a championship.

With such a stout defense and a bevy of playmakers on offense, it’s easy to imagine the Raiders would have made it deep into the postseason.

What truly set QND apart was its ability to contend with schools three or four times its size. Because of the scheduling conundrum brought on by the coronavirus, the Raiders were forced to join the Big 12 Conference for one season.

That meant its opponents had an average enrollment of 1,457 students. QND’s enrollment is 407. When it lost a Big 12 opponent due to pandemic reasons early in the season, QND filled the spot with Belleville West, the biggest school on its schedule with an enrollment of 2,112.

And the Raiders won. By a touchdown.

QND finished 4-2. On paper that doesn’t compare to teams that reached the state semifinals, but this group may have been better. The body of work suggests it’s worth a conversation.

Same goes for the soccer team.

The Associated Press doesn’t do a state soccer poll, but if it did, the Raiders would have been the No. 1 team in Class 1A. Heck, the Raiders might have been the No. 1 team in Class 2A, and they could have been a competitive bunch in Class 3A.

The 13-2 record is impressive, matching the 1986 and 1993 squads for the second fewest regular-season losses in program history. Senior striker Seth Anderson finished his career as the leading goal scorer in program history and a two-time all-stater. His younger brother, Tanner, is on pace to break those records after an incredible sophomore season.

And the defense snuffed out opposing attacks at every turn.

Without a postseason, it’s difficult to compare this team to the three that have won state championships, but the eye test tells you a lot. This group was dynamic, lethal and overpowering.

It had a championship mentality and a championship swagger.

It never was allowed to play for a championship.

That shouldn’t count against either team. They earned the right to be celebrated and remembered. Exactly how? That’s up to the administration and the Hall of Fame committee.

And here is what is asked of those groups: Don’t forget unforgettable accomplishments, especially for those whose chance at greatness was taken off the table and not lost along the way.

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