Whether they like it or not, the Albany Panthers have faced the reality that there won't be another game next week.
From game planning for a third straight indoor football championship to planning exit physicals, a season that can only described as tough and confusing is finally over.
A full cast of veteran leaders set on completing a three-peat title chase saw that vision collapse in Huntsville Monday night, losing 61-46 to the Alabama Hammers.
The season ended with a 7-6 record, far different from a PIFL championship performance. In fact, Panthers General Manager Will Carter had to ship the championship trophy to Alabama, that crown will now be harbored at another front office.
Now, the Panthers coaches and front office are left trying to figure out where to go next.
"Expectations were high going in to this season, but I just felt like week in and week out we couldn't get up that fire to compete," coach Lucious Davis said.
"We want to win a championship and we started off 3-0, but winning four of our last ten games is not acceptable," Carter said.
This past year, the Panthers held most of the same personnel pieces dedicated to another title run. Whether those pieces held the same intensity is a question most in the organization are asking.
The front office says it may be refreshing to get some new blood in the "purple and black". The head coach agrees with thatâ"just not at his job title.
Davis told FOX 31 Sports two weeks ago that he wanted to stay as the head coach for another season. Davis echoed that statement on Wednesday, but the organization holds the final decision.
If Davis returns, he holds his own set of motivations.
"Part of me is happy that (the veterans) are walking away. Part of me is sad because I genuinely care for those guys. Part of me is happy that they're gone because now I can show these naysayers what type of coach I am," Davis said.
At least five key Panthers players have decided to retire from indoor football. Quarterback Cecil Lester, defensive back Demetrie McCray, fullback Derrick Wimbush along with receivers Antwone Savage and Clenton Rafe are not returning for another season.