This is how Chris LaPierre envisioned his football career ending. He was in the arms of his teammates, parents and fans, reveling in his role in an ending act he couldn't have scripted better.
Shawnee, ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, had just completed a 12-0 season with last night's 28-7 win over visiting Hammonton in the South Jersey Group 3 title game, and LaPierre, as usual, did more than his share.
He carried the ball 26 times for 179 yards, scored all four touchdowns, and ended with single-season state records of 44 touchdowns and 272 points.
For LaPierre, what meant the most was that he ended the season winning his final game, the first time in school history that Shawnee has captured consecutive sectional titles.
So, after all the hard work, the emotions poured out, and he hugged teammates and friends and began to realize that he'd never suit up again for Shawnee.
"It's a great feeling," LaPierre said. "We knew we would be No. 1 in the preseason. There were a lot of expectations, and we were able to get it done."
While it was assumed this was his final game of football, LaPierre now has left the door ajar.
He has signed a lacrosse scholarship at the University of Virginia and, as much success as he has had in football, those in the know say he's even better in lacrosse.
"Some people ask if I will play again and right now I don't know," he said. "All I know is I feel great."
Wait a minute. You don't know?
"I could be a punter [in college]," he suggested.
One suggestion is that the Virginia football coaches may want to try to twist his arm to play - and do more than punt. But that's another story for another day.
He was far from a one-man team last night, though only LaPierre and placekicker Mike Bono hit the scoring column for the Renegades.
The defense was airtight, and teammate Justin Miller, a ball-hawking linebacker, became Shawnee's all-time leading tackler.
Quarterback Kody Smith ran the offense with precision, missing on only two of 10 passes and making some big scrambles early in the game.
Despite all that, this was LaPierre's evening, though it didn't get off to the best of starts. His first four carries netted minus-5 yards. But then scored on two runs of 2 yards before bursting for a 78-yard touchdown run on a draw play that gave the Renegades a 21-0 lead late in the first half. He added a 3-yard touchdown run in the second half.
"He is something," Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said of LaPierre.
Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said LaPierre didn't have to carry the team, and he was right. But the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior did his share of heavy lifting.
In addition, he had a fine game at safety and also handled punting duties.
"It was a blast coaching him," Gushue said. "And the good thing is that I get to coach him one more time."
Gushue is also the lacrosse coach.
Every player reaches that point of finality, and maybe that's why LaPierre stayed on the field so long afterward, soaking in the atmosphere, hating to pull off that Shawnee jersey one final time.
"I will miss it a ton," LaPierre said. "Since I was 5 years old it's all I've done, and it was great to go out this way."