There was a whole line down the turf of Don Breese Stadium. 

The final whistle was blown, the 28-18 loss to No. 5 Erie was finalized, and Palmer Ridge's season was over. Coach Mike Armentrout still stood at the other end of the line of bodies, ready to have his shoulders wet from the tears of the team he takes so much pride in. 

Player-by-player and parent-by-parent he stood and gave each a hug and word of advice. The team went from an un-molded piece of clay before the year to a family — a brotherhood, as the team calls it. 

"People talk about culture and brotherhood and sometimes it's coach speak and kid speak," Armentrout said. "We haven't always had the best reputation, but our kids have grown so much. The gifts they've given the program transcend football." 

Senior Anthony Costanzo grew to be a pillar of the team. Junior K.C. Fackerell falls in the same category, for different but equally valid reasons, after fighting through numerous injuries to take the field. 

Neither were between the lines of Saturday's loss. The two were injured towards the end of the team's second round 28-27, double overtime win over Pueblo West. 

Armentrout refuses to make excuses — he instead chose to touch on how the two still led, even without pads. He kept the same attitude when junior Joshua Gerlach went down during the game. As did sophomore Cooper Havenar. 

In fact, the team found a way to make a late push, in spite of the hurdles. 

At one point, after trailing by as much as 18, sophomore quarterback Derek Hester fired a 20-yard touchdown to senior Ethan Twesme to cut the lead to 21-16. Senior Ayden Snow caught a two-point conversion to trim it even further. 

The fight was there, even if all the soldiers weren't. 

"It seemed like any time we hit them, they hit back," Armentrout said. "That's a great team and they just answered everything we threw at them." 

To Erie's credit, it wasn't a typical five-seeded team. 

The Tigers haven't lost a game and have beat 4A playoff qualifiers like Skyline, Bear Creek, Longmont and Fruita Monument — all by multiple touchdowns and three of the four by at least 24 points. 

The loss ended a streak of title game appearances (four) for Palmer Ridge that dated back to its first title in 2017. 

Several Bears are moving on, but even more are returning. This year's team, to Armentrout, was the closest and most connected he's ever coached — no matter the sport. 

As the saying goes, records are meant to be broken, though — and for Palmer Ridge, that's an accolade that could be broken every year without complaint.