From a program that was nearly shut down two years ago to being a team in the final four two consecutive year, the reward for that perseverance is a shot a state title for Colleyville Covenant.
And while it wasn't the cleanest of games with a number of starters missing due to injury and another that had to leave in the middle of the game and have a cast applied, it was a scrappy win the TAPPS Division III semifinals over district rival Fort Worth Lake Country that made it all the better.
"It was a great win for us," head coach Phil Towe said. "We it wasn't our best game, but we played well enough."
Unlike the first meeting, Covenant (7-0) didn't have to come from behind to steal a road win. Instead it held the lead throughout most of the game but needed some last minute heroics to pull out the victory.
Facing 3rd and long and the game nearing its end, Lake Country (10-2) nearly picked up the first down and were about a yard and a half away from extending the drive. On 4th down, the Covenant defense stuffed the Lake Country run just enough to force the turnover on downs.
"Our defense, that last play, that showed the fight our team has," Towe said.
Austin Sheets led the Covenant attack with 252 yards and touchdowns, one of which went to Daniel Calabrese for 83 yards on Covenant's first drive.
Despite the sluggish play, turnovers and injuries, Covenant is now a win away from a state championship where it will meet Cypress Christian at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 19 at Panther Stadium in Midway.
Towe, excited about his team's win, admitted he hadn't watched much of Cypress yet in preparation of Lake Country, but knew the next game will be a tough one.
"I only watch them for a couple minutes. They're big and physical."