None of the East Syracuse-Minoa football players were in a hurry to leave the turf of the Carrier Dome.
So they lingered, taking turns holding the Section III Class A championship banner, hugging each other, high-fiving the Spartan fans in the front row, or just letting the weight of the moment sink in.
For the first time in school history, ESM holds a sectional football title, having done it last Friday night in a hard-fought 14-6 victory over the Nottingham Bulldogs.
"It's an amazing feeling," said senior Zach Moss, who snagged game MVP honors for his work on defense. "There's nothing better right now."
Head coach Kevin DeParde took that sentiment even further, saying the victory culminated a long, arduous climb for his program.
"It's every emotion you can imagine," he said. "It's not just for this season, but for all the teams and coaches in the past here. This group has an enormous amount of heart."
Every bit of that heart, plus a few strokes of good fortune, would be needed against Nottingham, an opponent trying to atone for last year's Class A final loss to Whitesboro in the Dome.
DeParde said his team was at a physical disadvantage when compared to the Bulldogs, so it had to stay patient on both ends of the ball and execute in order to succeed.
That patience got tested quickly. Midway through the first quarter, Mick Letcher was sacked and fumbled the ball on his own 41-yard line, and Nottingham's Demetrius Parker recovered.
Turning to its own power running game, the Bulldogs pounded it in, as Tyshon Goode ran the final four yards for the touchdown to put his team up 6-0.
But Nottingham would not score again. ESM, in its first sectional final since 1984, would bend as Goode ran 32 times for 163 yards, but not give up the big play, allowing the Spartans time to get its own offense in gear.