Michael Jaime jogged along the edge of the Morrison Stadium stands Monday night until he ran out of hands to slap.
It didn't matter to the Swiss Army Knife of the Omaha South soccer team that he didn't score a goal in the state tournament after scoring 30 in the regular season.
Jaime just wanted to celebrate the feat he and his childhood chums had accomplished moments earlier on the Morrison Stadium turf — winning the first Class A state soccer championship in school history.
For a guy who's listed in the tournament program as a defender, Jaime usually spends an awful lot of time up front with South's forwards. Of course, that's by design.
“You can call him a defender,” Omaha Creighton Prep co-coach Tom Hoover said, “but he's their everything.”
In Monday's 1-0 title match victory over Prep, Jaime spent more time in the trenches trying to neutralize the Junior Jays' potent offense. That, too, was by design.
“Tonight he probably took one for the team being in the back and not letting us expose him in the front,” Packers coach Joe Maass said. “To me, he's the best player in the state. He's done so much for our team.”
While Jaime wasn't necessarily thrilled with the idea of spending less time up front — “He's a competitor,” Maass said — the most important thing was helping the Packers secure the title.
“That's how we got here,” Jaime said. “I'm proud of the team, proud of the heart of this team. That's really what this is all about.”
Previous South teams have come close — the Packers finished second in 2010 and lost to Prep in the 2011 and 2012 semifinals — but Jaime knew things were going to be different this year.
“We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we had to get out here and compete,” Jaime said. “When you can look in everyone's eyes and see they want it just as bad as you do, then you know we're ready to go.”
Many of those pairs of eyes Jaime looked into were those he'd seen countless times before.
“These are guys I grew up playing with since we were 4 or 5,” Jaime said. “Some of them are going off to college, some of us will be back.”
A junior this season, Jaime will be one of those guys Maass and his staff will count on to defend this title in 2014.
Jaime was paying attention in previous seasons when South fell short, so he knows what made the difference this year.
“We didn't play as a team,” Jaime said of previous seasons. “Some people were out there playing for themselves and worried about putting on their own show.
“On this team, we didn't have anyone trying to be a star. That's what makes everyone a star on this team.”
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