Inside the Swarm - Clinton
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game meeting. Coach David Lipsey began by reminding the players that it would be wet and cool. "This is our fourth wet game this year," he continued. "We’re ready. Clinton is ready. Stay focused. Clinton is like Union – it is a football town. This will be a very physical game." At that point he introduced former Jacket player and football coach, Floyd Lyles who is the principal at Jonesville Elementary School.
Lyles entered the room with sagging pants, his football jersey, bling around his neck, and rings on his fingers. He explained to the team that he was modeling what some think is "cool."
"Thinking you’re cool doesn’t make you a man or a football player. What does it mean to be a ‘man" or a football player? You are what you think you are. The confidence you have in yourself. You have to represent yourself well.
"I am the principal of an elementary school and you have no idea how much those kids look up to Yellow Jacket football players. They think you are super stars. You just don’t understand the impact you have on those around you, every day. I would love for you to come to my school. My students would go crazy but don’t show up with your pants down. Sagging pants don’t make you a man. It’s not about that.
"I have fifth and sixth grade students. I tell my boys that we have rules and one of them is to keep your pants up and act like a man. You’re a role model. Students know who you are.
"I know who I am. I don’t have to be ‘cool.’ I don’t need to ‘fit in.’ Some boys have no one to stand for. You stand for Union County football. Jonesville had a program last night at the football field. It was about memories. Remembering when. You won’t forget this team.
"I gave my life to Christ a long time ago. You say you have done that too. I do it all the time, every day. I don’t have to fit in. If you are worried about who is ‘cool’ on this team, I promise you that you’ll never get to the State Championship. If you pull together, you can do it. You are a TEAM and you can win if you believe in each other and the team. I hear the fans. It hurts me to see a senior pouting or giving up. Success takes commitment.
"I wasn’t the best student in high school. I had no idea how important education was to my future. I never dreamed I’d be a principal. But, my life, my plan came together when I met Jesus Christ.
"This is your last ride, seniors. You have to make it as a team. It’s about the team. No super stars on this team. What is your standard in life? My standard is Christ. You can win IF you go together. If you really understood what it takes to become a State Champion you would act as a team. Now is the time to be the best team. Commit to something positive every day. Remember, you are a role model. Be a great one."
With the Defense. "We will be using different personnel this week," began defensive coordinator Chip Bailey. "Deon (Smith), Robbie Lee (Humphries), be ready. I don’t have time to look for you. Our heavy flow will start. Linebackers and free safety, key on the quarterback. Squeeze. Squeeze. We are bigger and stronger. Squeeze the tight end first. Key on the quarterback if he opens up to you – run. They run, run, run, run and then throw a pass to the tight end.
"Linebackers, you have to be physical. If you play like you practiced this week you’ll be fine. They will run the ball until we stop them. Get in their way. Don’t let them run on air. I feel good about us. If we stop the run, they may go to some trick plays. We have to be sharp and alert. Remember, backers on backs. Run with the backs.
"We have a chance to go 3-1 and stay in the race and get home play-off advantage. This is a big game. Be enthusiastic, physical and remember Clinton has a reputation for being physical and we have to match that. Their losses have come from teams who were more physical. Turn it loose. Make it happen."
In the gym. "They believe they are tougher than us," began Lipsey. "They think they can win under these conditions. You make your memories. I’ll remember number 1, Lamont Edney years from now. Same for 85, Desmond Floyd. Sixty-six, Will Smith. I’ll remember you guys a long time from now. Tonight you have a chance to make memories. Don’t let it go by. Go get it. They won’t give you anything. You’ll have to earn what you get. Go get it. This will be a quick game because we both run the ball. Last week was two hours. We are better in the kicking game than they are." At that point the team gathered around Lipsey and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
Kick-off minutes away. "Four quarters," began Lipsey. "Not two. Don’t’ wait. Get started fast. Four quarters of Union County football. Leave nothing on the field. Leave it all there. Squeeze blocks on defense. Keep your pads low. Wrap up. Those of you on the sidelines, stay back. We don’t have much room."
At the half. "They are more physical," began Lipsey. "They took it to us and have us on our heels. Defense, what are you gonna do? We have to get something going on offense. What kind of effort are you giving? You gotta fight. Keep your heads up. We have another half. Make the second half ours. No one here is gonna feel sorry for us. Seniors, let’s go. Let’s go. Get a good kick return."
Over. With it starting to rain, coach Lipsey gathered the team in the visiting team locker room. "We don’t need to be in the rain," he began. "Senior night is coming. The first half they controlled the game. We can’t have that. We made a good adjustment the second half and shut them down. You have to do something about this next Friday. We don’t need any negatives. Be positive. Don’t let this loss cost us a win next week. We need a real team effort next Friday. Don’t finish badly. We will start working on Blue Ridge Saturday."
"The biggest thing is sticking together," added coach Bryan Robinson. "We get on you to make you better but we praise you when you do well. We coach you to help you get better. Next week we are at home. Senior Night. What will you remember?
"Loosing sucks," continued Lipsey. "I won’t sleep tonight. We should have won. We didn’t play well the first half. You could get another shot at them during the play-offs. Stay positive. I need everyone, everyone at practice Monday."
Quick hitters. Union had the ball for only one series in the first quarter… Jordan Sims covered a Union punt allowing the Clinton player no return… John Simmons Fallaw bulled through the Clinton line for the Jackets first down late in the second quarter… vocal support along the sidelines was good throughout the game… one of the biggest "cheerleaders" was senior tackle Will Smith who started on defense… Deon Thompson’s pass reception gave Union its second first down just before the end of the second quarter… Jordan Sims got a tackle for loss on third down, forcing Clinton to punt… Sylvester Moore made a key pass break-up in the third quarter… Tevin Thompson and a couple of other Jackets had a big tackle for loss forcing Clinton to punt… Jeremy Porter made a tough sideline catch and got smacked hard in the process… With 30-some seconds on the clock and Clinton about to cross the goal line again, their second string quarterback took a knee… class.
The journey continues. Blue Ridge. Big game. Senior night. Be there.
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