Despite the loss, Bears LB Kye Poole found positive aspects to take away from the experience.
"It was extra special making it to the Dome (state finals)," said Poole, who is a thick-bodied yet undersized LB in the 5-9 and 225-pound range.
"It was also my birthday the day of the game. My mom was in the stands with a sign with my name and (jersey) number on it. I won the MVP after setting a state championship record with three recovered fumbles."
The Bears recently completed spring training with a team scrimmage.
"Overall, I feel I'm a better athlete than last season," said Poole, who was able to make his share of plays sideline-to-sideline during his junior campaign despite the bulky physique. "It was great to put the pads on again.
"I'm going to be a team leader if that's what my team wants me to do. I love my team. I'll hold for the field goals and extra points or whatever."
"The other day, I took a picture with a big stack of mail and put it on Facebook, and that was just from Tulane and Pitt," he said. "I've gotten letters from the current head coach at each school; both schools had coaching changes (at head coach) but they both continued to remain in steady contact."
Nebraska might be Poole's "dream offer," if he could pick the one he wants.
"Oh, man...that's my team," Poole said of the Cornhuskers.
What does he have to say for critics who argue 5-9 is too short for a LB in the SEC or other BCS conferences?
"I live by this," he began. "The typical linebacker might be 6-0 or taller but nowhere is there a rule that says you have to be that tall to play the game.
"I had 100-plus tackles last year. I got a good grip."