TALLMADGE — It’s a rather cold, harsh reality that no one can avoid.
For the mere mortals who make their home on this vast, rotating, blue planet, everything seems to have a dreaded expiration date.
As a matter of fact, if you consider a verse from the Bible’s Book of James, the outlook on humanity appears to be even more sinister.
"You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears."
It’s a safe bet three longtime allies who relish a sport known as the "The Beautiful Game," politely beg to differ.
When it comes to Tallmadge senior soccer players Suhaib Mahameed, Nathan Kubala and Brandon Manda, they’re more likely to consider W. Somerset Maugham’s more comforting words instead.
"Nothing in the world is permanent and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it," the 20th-century playwright once said.
Thus far, the 2019 season hasn’t been particularly splendid for the Blue Devils’ elder statesmen.
Like it has been for a number of years, Tallmadge has been tormented by its supremely gifted Suburban League American Conference opponents.
But that hasn’t diminished the Blue Devils’ enthusiasm even if they could be considered sacrificial lambs against imposing goliaths such as Copley, Revere or Aurora.
At least one of those seniors welcomes these rather barbaric circumstances. In fact, he has been more than happy to carry his medieval wooden spear against a horde of menacing troops armed with nuclear warheads.
"There’s not a time I don’t want to get on the bus even if we’re playing Copley or some powerhouse team," Kubala said. "I’m excited to get on that bus. I’m going to miss it when we’re not."
Unfortunately for Kubala, the end is indeed dangerously near. As it has proven over and over again, time doesn’t take sabbaticals or extended leaves of absence.
It never stops. And to put it in more grim terms, no one can stop it from happening.
"It’s hard to fathom," Manda said. "It’s one of those things you put in the back of your mind, but you don’t realize it hits you until you get there."
It hit them like a ton of bricks last Saturday. Tallmadge played its final home game of the season on its barely more than a month-old state-of-the art facility.
To see the game come to a close was certainly bittersweet, particularly to Tallmadge’s honorable senior triumvirate.
In the long run, though, the gifted trio will certainly cherish its final crusade on its glossy new digs.
Despite a slow start, the Blue Devils improved to 3-7-2 after pummeling Canton McKinley 12-1 at Blue Devils Stadium.
Appropriately enough, all three seniors made a lasting impact.
Kubala scored twice and Mahameed finished with one goal and three assists. Not to be outdone, Manda found the strings, as well.
It was quite a curtain call for the three young men, who have been playing together since they were 5 years old.
As for Kubala, coming to grips with the final stages of his high school career has been quite a bloodthirsty reality.
Nevertheless, he can take solace from a heartwarming quote by A.A. Milne. Of course, that certain 20th-century English author may be outshined by a certain yellow beast he created more than 90 years ago.
He happens to be a cuddly teddy bear named Winnie-the-Pooh.
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard," the fictional carnivoran mammal once said.
"It has been a little tough just because of the losses and ties," Kubala said. "It’s just hard to say goodbye. It’s not how we planned it to go, but the guys around us have definitely made it fun."
Unlike the Epistle of James, Kubala and Co. are hoping the rest of their season won’t be a "puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears."
If the tournament bracket means anything, the Blue Devils’ journey to extend their potentially brief life span will be an onerous one.
Tallmadge got a modest 11th seed in the Kent Division II sectional-district tournament.
For one senior, such a state of affairs sounds deliciously appropriate.
"Anything can happen," the eternally optimistic Mahameed said. "We would rather be the underdogs coming into the tournament, which is what we are. I feel like the underdog persona kind of fits Tallmadge High School soccer and Tallmadge High School in general."
Perhaps Elton John would agree. One might suggest that a certain smash hit by the flamboyant English singer describes the Blue Devils to a T.
"You can't plant me in your penthouse; I'm going back to my plough."
Unlike the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, though, a certain Tallmadge triad is in no hurry to say "Goodbye" to its "Yellow Brick Road."
"They’re a special group of seniors," Blue Devils’ first-year head coach David Shahata said. "They’ve set the tone of our team culture that I’m honored to be part of. I appreciate each one of them."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.