They believed it.
Unfortunately, sometimes pure, unabashed talent and an army of reserves trumps desire, regardless of the hearts involved.
Highlands' offense is extremely volatile, built upon the rock of quarterback Chase Cecil's arm. Cecil has completed over half his passes on the season and has racked up 1,171 yards. The Birds back-up QB, Chad Hudepohl, is also an able field general, throwing for nearly 97 yards a game and 18.3 yards a toss in his four outings behind the snap.
The game plan was a bit different on Friday, however.
Abandoning their long ball style in favor of a fleet-footed ground game seemed to work just fine, however.
The Colts' defense had trouble fighting through the sizable Highlands offensive line, allowing running back Jordan Kramer to juke and jive for 201 yards on 13 carries, two of which concluded in the end zone.
Highlands scored on every drive in the first half, mounting a 49-0 charge in the first 24 minutes of play.
The Colts, on the other hand, only managed to move for 31 yards of offense in the first half and didn't complete a first down until a short Joseph Guthrie rushing play with just seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Yet through it all, the Colts never threw their hands in the air or waved the white flag. They stuck to their game plan and did what head Coach Wes Johnson and his coaching staff told them to do. Their hard-nosed attitude is what endeared them most to their coach, he said, and what he will miss most about the 12 seniors who will never again don a Colt uniform.
"That's the way they've been all year," Johnson said. "It's kind of emotional for me to see these guys go. They've been like sons to me. It's going to be hard for me not to say, '[Eric] Coker, [Eli] Darby, get out there.' But not just them. The whole senior group. Even those guys that came back to play for us after a couple of years hiatus. They're just a pleasure to coach and a pleasure to be around."
Things perked up for the Colts during the second half. They were just a bit out of reach for the comeback, but their desire to reach the end zone kept the kindling going for the final 24 minutes.
Running back Darby had the only touchdown of the evening for the Colts, a 6-yard run with about a minute left in the third quarter. Darby's 41 yards led West in rushing on the evening, and the game total vaulted him with prestigious company.
The senior's rushing yardage surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for his career.
As with most seniors in his last game, Darby's mind wasn't fixed on his individual achievement; he was already thinking about the void left by never again stepping on the field with his 11 fellow seniors.
"I'm crying now, but it's because I'm happy and I've loved every minute of the four years I've been out here. It's just special," he said, pausing to mull over the implications. "I don't know what to say. I love being around all of them. Every single one of them. I love coming in every day, even when you've had a bad day and you're not looking forward to football. It's cold outside, whatever. There's 11 other guys out there, seniors that have done it just like you have."