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Third and Long: Ryan Edwards 11/3Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards

When I first started covering games for PrepsKC in college, I had the privilege of covering an elite program in Maryville.

At the time, the Spoofhounds were a juggernaut — no one could stop them. From 2012 to Nov. 14, 2014, the Spoofhounds were the toast of Class 3 in Missouri.

They rattled off 42 straight wins and won back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013. I really thought they’d have a shot to three-peat in 2014, but it wasn’t meant to be as Aaron Graham and the Oak Grove Panthers shattered any hopes the Spoofhounds had of three-peating that year.

I was lucky enough to watch that game in person. And I’d be the first person to tell you what Graham did that night nearly seven years ago was special.

It’s what playoff football is all about, leaving everything on the line — that performance left me and everyone else in attendance, speechless.

Graham finished the game with 345 yards and seven touchdowns. Yes, you read that correctly. Graham single-handedly ended Maryville’s dominance in Class 3.

Graham’s performance will go down as one of the best I've ever seen. It’s even more impressive, because he was able to do it in the playoffs against the most dominant team in Class 3 at the time.

So how exactly does this all tie together?

In the playoffs, you’ve got to expect the unexpected — anything can happen.

Make no mistake about it, these types of streaks, performances and dynasties don’t happen by accident — they all have something in common. It’s the foundation laid in the off-season. It’s about carrying on a tradition started by a group kids and carried on by the next wave.

Tradition is a mindset for programs like Maryville, Jefferson City, Platte County, Webb City and Lamar.

It’s a way of life — especially for smaller communities like Lamar and Maryville. They know, of course, that it won’t last forever, but they also know they’ll be back on the big stage one day.

As much as we don’t want to, we have to cherish those dynasties. Admire those long win streaks. Applaud those back-to-back-to-back state championships. Appreciate the once in a lifetime type of performance by a player like Aaron Graham.

That’s what high school football is all about.

That’s what playoff football is all about.