Frank Stranzl

There is a white box in my closet filled with memories. It’s the box I look to at those dire moments when you need an emotional boost.

From high school yearbooks to photos of my childhood, blue ribbons and a “One-Day Passport” from my first trip to Disneyland and even a pair of stuffed animals that have followed me from birth.

More than anything, I use the memories in that box to remind myself of who I am.

I’m sure injured quarterback Anthony Garnett has been looking in his own box of memories in the last week. His Cal Poly football career was ended after tearing his ACL and meniscus in the game against Montana.

He’s going to look back on this season and think, “What if …”

What if he hadn’t thrown that ball or mis-planted his foot in the turf? What if he hadn’t been injured at all – would the team have lost to UC Davis? What if the team ran the table and won the Division I-AA championship?

Garnett was a very good football player and a leader for the team. But the loss of one player can’t mean the end of the season.

After consecutive losses, the Cal Poly football team’s season is on the brink of disaster.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan for the Mustangs. They were No. 3 in the polls, the highest ranking in school history and destined for a top seed in the playoffs. That was then and this is now:

The Mustangs sit at a crossroads. The team is in a do-or-die situation against No. 10 Eastern Washington on Saturday. In fact, every game is a must-win for the Mustangs.

One loss and Cal Poly will not make the playoffs, a scenario that seemed impossible before two weeks ago.

Many will look back on this season and think the same thing Garnett is most likely thinking, “What if?” Would Cal Poly be better off with Garnett in the lineup? A resounding yes!

But that’s not going to happen. Matt Brennan is the starting quarterback. He, along with the rest of the team, will have to step up their game and play out this season.

This is still a playoffcaliber team.

There were 10 other players on the field while Garnett did his duties and the defense had been rock solid up until an Oct. 22 trip to Missoula.

James Noble, although nursing an injury himself, is an outstanding running back. Ramses Barden and Tredale Tolver are having fantastic freshmen seasons. Chris Gocong is one of the top defensive players in the nation and Kyle Shotwell is one of the top linebackers in the nation.

And that’s not all. There are plenty of bright spots on the team. From place-kicker Nick Coromelas to nose tackle Chris White, this team is loaded with under-the-radar talent.

The absence of one player can’t be the difference between a championship football team and disaster.

It hurts not having Garnett in the lineup. There’s no doubt about it, he was the key to the offense. But championships are won by teams, not individuals.

The team has three days to rediscover themselves, to find the confidence they had two weeks ago. If they don’t, they, too, will look back on this season and wonder, “What if?”

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