SIDEBAR: Hamlin leaves it all on the field in state title game loss

ARLINGTON — Leading Hamlin in its first state championship game against a Mart squad that was making its 12th state appearance, coach Russell Lucas just wanted his Pied Pipers to block out all external noise and be themselves.

If it could play loose and with poise, as it had done in building a 12-2 record and earning Thursday’s historic opportunity, Lucas was confident his team could compete with the two-time defending champion Panthers.

The Pipers did all these things Thursday in a game that was tight to the finish. And though they came out on the losing end of a 25-20 slugfest, they left with their heads held high, knowing that the game was decided by their execution between the lines and not outside factors in a moment that was too large for them.

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