Maybe the words would have sounded typical of a coach scorned. Maybe that's why Tim King, who would have been entirely justified Saturday to go volcanic about a miserably officiated game, chose to remain true to his character and resisted the temptation.
This was after King, the football coach of the kids known as the Warriors, the cooperative of Valley Regional and Old Lyme, cried. The outcome, a 20-13 loss in the state Class M semifinals to Brookfield, was a gutbuster, exacerbated by a Fairfield Board officiating crew whose auditory capabilities were far more advanced than their optical awareness.
All you ever needed to know about King happened in the quick moments after the game on the turf of Cheshire High. His program's passion reaches his players' souls. Which is why losing hurt so much. His personality is so infectious that even Valley's principal, Kristina Martineau, was there cheering her lungs out on the sideline, gushing about King's humbleness, sense of humor and value to Valley.
And his decency precluded him from telling the truth about the officiating, avoiding saying something like, "if any one of them ever does another playoff game, they should fire the assigner, too."
But that's Tim King. As his players did him proud Saturday, King did his old coaches, Dave Pesapane and Bob Demars (among others) at St. Bernard, even prouder. King was taught well. He teaches the same lessons.
Even in the loss that ended the season, even in tears, quarterback Phil Cohen made his way to the Brookfield sideline - after the formal handshake line - and shook the hands of every Brookfield player and coach. Pretty damn terrific. Pretty damn clear, too, how the dignity of the coach runs like a current through the program.
It's not just that way with the kids. King is the pied piper of the school, too. His office, the physical education office, is the building's "Cheers," a place Martineau said you go to "recharge."
Or in Martineau's case: redecorate. She slipped in one day and applied a Hello Kitty motif. King, ever superstitious, won't take it down. Makes you wonder how much better our educational systems might run with an utterly cool principal and a pied piper in every building.
"We hang out there every day for lunch," Valley teacher and Waterford High graduate Mike Bono said last week. "We have like 10 people in this little two-desk office. It's just fun. Tim is a super humble guy. What he gives the school and the kids isn't measurable."
Valley/Old Lyme competes (and dominates) in the Pequot Football Conference, a league that commands little respect across Connecticut. Many cooperatives and small schools. This just in, however: the Warriors. Would they have won the ECC? Maybe not. But they're better than most of the league. And they play in their coach's image.
"We were an undersized team, but part of why we won a state championship (in 1978) was because Tim set the tone," Pesapane said. "Tim was a heck of a hitter. It's always nice to see your former players go into coaching. Tim is right where he belongs. He deserves everything he's getting."
Bono: "I remember (former St. Bernard coach and athletic director) Art Lamoureux saying once that there were only two guys he remembered who played at corner who could start at safety, too: Bill Bono and Tim King. Art said, 'they're both crazy and their neurons don't connect.'"
King should be preparing for the state championship game this week. His team led by a point in the final four minutes and had a touchdown called back on the day's only holding call. They were denied a touchdown in the first quarter by a bad spot on the goal line. And an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Valley sideline wasn't preceded by a sideline warning and featured no profanity whatsoever.
There should be rousing conversation in King's office at lunchtime Monday. But it's the very idea that they gather in the office at all that illustrates King's immeasurable contribution. We should all care this deeply about something in our lives. How lucky for the school that Tim King cares about Valley Regional and its kids.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.