Inside the Swarm - Blue Ridge
BY: Paul Davis
Pre-game devotional. "Get the play out of your system," began coach David Lipsey. "Save that for tonight at 7:30. Get your heads right. Beautiful weather. Senior night. What more do you want? And there will be a good crowd, too."
At that point team chaplain Robert Emory began by sharing with the team some of his experiences on his mission trip to Cuba. "You know guys," he continued, "they play baseball there but they have no glove, no bat, just a stick. A school teacher makes eight dollars a month, a doctor thirty dollars. We are so blessed to have what we have.
"Billy Owens will speak tonight. He has been a successful high school football coach but God shifted him to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where he is over Spartanburg County."
"Remember the hot days practicing?" began Owens. "There’s a great saying – ‘Practice in the heat so you can play in the cold.’ For lots of teams, getting into the playoffs doesn’t matter. I see a lot of ball games and sometimes there are not ten people in the stands. It was cold here Monday with snow in the mountains. So I want you to think about snow.
"How many like snow? Pretend you are in the snow and you see a 500 pound lion. What’s your first thought? Run? Run fast? Well, what if your first thought was NOT to run? The lion realizes you won’t run. He never encountered any human who didn’t run. He thinks you are crazy. So now the lion runs. You chase him through the snow and the lion falls into a pit. He claws to get out. You look into the pit and walk away. All of a sudden, you turn and run to the pit. You dive in. You and the lion. You have nothing in your hands to fight the lion. But you attack the lion and kill him with your bare hands.
"Well, this actually happened in II Samuel 23, starting with verse 20 where Benaiah killed the lion and then killed a huge Egyptian warrior by snatching his spear from him and killing him with it. King David then put him in charge of his bodyguard.
"Everything you do can prepare you to be the kind of person God wants you to be. Deion Sanders was one of the greatest cover corners in NFL history. He had everything. He had the world. But he realized he was empty without God and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. We don’t know what Benaiah had but he maxed out what he did have. He prepared for what God wanted him to be. He had to leave his feet to jump into the pit with the lion. When he dove into that pit it was him and the lion. It wasn’t about car rims and $150 shoes. It wasn’t about material things.
"You’ve done your training. All Benaiah could do was lay it on the line with all he had. God took care of the rest. We face "lions" every day because we don’t call on Him. Benaiah had to be faithful to God. It’s the same thing your coaches ask you to do. Did I max out what I have and leave the rest to God? God does extraordinary things with ordinary people.
"I am the only one in my family with a college degree. God got me here to Union High and gave me a great opportunity to coach. Will you allow God to max you out? Wofford College doesn’t get D-I athletes but the ones they have max out. I see you all once a year and can fool you but I can’t fool God. Everyone will stand before God on their own. If you have Jesus in your heart, He will tell his Father that ‘I have forgiven him.’
"I’m crazy on Friday nights but God took football away from me and gave me FCA. He gave me a passion for it." And with that, Owens closed with prayer.
"You are lucky to have good talks from coaches," began Lipsey. "These talks speak to me, too. The JVs had a great game last night. They competed hard. Sherman (Hawkins) played safety for the first time and made a key interception. We have a good class of athletes coming up, too."
Offense. Coach Dave Maness began by reviewing several offensive sets. "If they go to a 4 x 4, that shouldn’t bother us," he continued. "We’ll run a couple of different plays early to see what they do like a fullback trap. It depends on field position. We’ll run Bear and Bull.
"Seniors, this is your last round at home. Underclassmen, I feel like you owe it to them to give a big effort. We could go to the State Championships and never play at home. We need to finish on a positive note. If we do what we are supposed to do we’ll be fine. Be IN the game when you are out there. Focus on your assignment. We can’t turn the ball over. Make a play when your number is called. You can go to 5-5. Play as a team. The JVs only had 22 or 23 players but they played together."
In the gym. "Explode tonight," began Lipsey. "Have fun playing football. They will try and establish the run, do play action, and will challenge our secondary. What will be the last impression of us at Union County stadium? We’ll be on the road. We’ll have to be road warriors. Protect the house tonight. Make some great memories. Our best football should be now. Take the next step. Be physical. Go all out."
Before kick-off. "Go get it. Go get it," began Lipsey. "Blue Ridge is a good football team. Get after it. Eleven to the ball. Sidelines, be in the game. Play as a team. Control the line of scrimmage. Stay low and run your feet. Defense, use your pads, wrap up, and run your feet. This is your night, seniors. Make everyone proud to watch you play football.
Half way. "Don’t take your foot off the peddle," said Lipsey. "Win this game. We need four quarters of great football. That will give us momentum for next week. Don’t get slack. Don’t loose your concentration. Make this the best second half of the year.
Over. "Congratulations," shouted Lipsey. "You were physical. You hit hard. Great game. Next week every one of us is 0 and 0. Five weeks to go. Monday morning, practice at 8 AM. We’ll come and get you if needed. This is playoff time. Get ready for practice. Woodmont will be ready. They had their best record in a long time."
Quick hitters. The referee wore a "scream mask" up until the time for kick-off… later, after a perceived bad call on Union, one of the coaches hollered at him to put his mask back on… co-captains were Lamont Edney, Tevin Thompson, Clay Moore, and Aaron West…Erik Beaty made an interception on the first play…sophomore Desmond Floyd had several tackles for loss… Blue Ridge players would reach down and pull Union players to their feet during the game… Sylvester Moore had a tackle for loss forcing Blue Ridge into second and fourteen… sophomore Ricky Rice had a tackle for loss making it third and twenty…. Nick Monroe told coaches that Blue Ridge wasn’t lining anyone up on the center of Union’s line. When Union tried to take advantage of it, they had changed their alignment… kicker Alex Tucker gave a big boost to the defense by putting four kick-offs into the end zone… Jordan Sims had a tackle for loss forcing Blue Ridge into a third and eight…Monroe got off a good 45-yard punt in the second quarter…Rice and Tevin Thompson combined for another tackle for loss… coach Lipsey warned the kick-off return team about a squib kick which came true with the Tigers recovering the ball on our 50-yard line… Floyd forced a fumble… a Blue Ridge receiver got hammered on a reception forcing a fumble and the receiver from the game…Robert Littlejohn made a big play when he tackled a Blue Ridge running back from behind on the 50-yard line during a kick-off return… for the first time in memory, Union was penalized for "Pushing the pile"…Monroe got off a 40-yard punt with no return…with 24.8 seconds left in the game, sophomore Bryan Dill intercepted a Blue Ridge pass in Union territory, sealing the victory…the Jackets had good clock management in the last seven minutes of the game, running the clock down to three or for seconds before the snap.
The journey continues. Woodmont. Be there.
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