Within the Swarm – Gaffney
By: Paul Davis
Pregame: Three forty-three and the Jackets listen to coach Dave Lipsey challenge the team to be ready, not like the Spartanburg game and if they didn’t want to get totally ready to "…turn in your jersey."
"Concentrate on what you have to do tonight. But not just tonight, the next seven weeks and then five. Enjoy the fellowship and the meal. But when the lights come on you have to give your highest level of effort every week.
Team chaplain Robert Emory noted that it seemed like a long time since their last game two weeks ago. "You know, things happen for a reason. I had asked Reverend Washington to speak tonight but he couldn’t but he said his wife could bring a message just as well. So tonight we are privileged to have Yoneko Washington, who was a good athlete herself and who coaches girls basketball and volleyball here to bring the message."
After offering a prayer, she began. "I found out at 2:30 that I was supposed to speak to you tonight. I want to be prepared to do this well but I said I’d do it for the Lord. I want to talk to you about four things.
"First is Trust. What do you do when something unanticipated happens? What do you do? First of all, you need to trust in the Lord with all you heart and all your soul. We need to be prepared but sometimes we can’t and that’s when we need to pray to God. He will handle it. If you glorify God on the field, you will have nothing to worry about.
"Next is Focus. I stress that all the time in volleyball. Your coaches have come up with plans to help you focus. Like speaking tonight, I can be prepared to speak to you through my Bible study and my prayer life. God has a plan for you. You are prepared tonight and game situations help make you prepare even better for the unexpected. Anyone can lift weights but focus takes you ahead. You can make a big play IF you are prepared.
"Love each other. The Jackets are a family. What would you do for your teammates? What would they do for you? Jesus did a lot for us – He died for us because He loves us. You should be able to trust each other to make the play. That’s trust and love.
"Glorify God. We fear the unknown. We’re afraid of what others might see. For a Christian, it’s a done deal. You can be a playmaker if you give it all you have every day. The same is for Christ. Give Him all you have and things will work out.
"It’s not about your ability. It’s about the team chemistry where you give all you have and you get it all back. Has anyone of you given something to someone for no reason? How did you feel? Good, right? You don’t know the effect you have on the lives of others around you.
"Love each other as Christ loves you. Each one of you has to know that each of you has the other guy’s back.
" When the unexpected happens, what do you do? Are you prepared?
"Glorify God. That’s what matters. Support each other. Can people see God in you? Christ loves you more than anyone."
Henderson really connected with the Jackets as they erupted in a vigorous, sustained applause,
The offense. Coach Dave Maness began by reminding the offense that Gaffney was ranked 7th in 4A. "They are bigger than us, faster than us and they know it. But what they don’t know is what we have in here," pointing to his heart.
"Against Chester you fought your butt off. You didn’t do much against Spartanburg and you know what happened. If we show them early we came for a fight, they’ll have to go get their lunch because they’ll know we’ll fight to the end, regardless of the score. Fight for 48 minutes and if we do we can’t loose, regardless of the score.
"This game is intended to get you ready for the rest of the season. Sometimes, we have a small percentage of bad plays called but the basic problem is poor execution. When a play doesn’t work, someone didn’t do their job. We talked about trusting each other. Can I trust you? Are you committed to winning? Play wide open. There will be some big plays. Take care of the football and don’t commit foolish penalties like a block in the back with the runner 15 yards ahead of you."
Coach Rocky Cooper – who teaches in elementary school – explained how much his students look up to them. "They want to be just like you," he continued. "When I have them do some exercises that we do with you, they can’t wait to do them."
In the gym.
Coach Lipsey began by telling the team that Gaffney’s special teams were not a good as they have been in the past but were as good as Spartanburg. "Tonight," he continued, "don’t get down. Think about the kids your age that are in Texas facing that hurricane. We need every single one of you on Friday night. We need your fire, your enthusiasm, your competitiveness regardless of your role. Get the home crowd excited.
"This summer I did some land surveying and they told us that if we were out cutting brush and saw one yellow jacket, to drop our brush axe and run. That’s what we need tonight."
Before kick-off. "Get after their tail," said Lipsey. "Get lower. Let them be high. Get to the football. Run to the open hole. Don’t worry about mistakes. Go 100%. Go hard on every play. You can relax at 10 tonight. You did the Oklahoma drill last week, so do that on every play tonight. Play with pride." When Lipsey was finished, Tevin Thompson asked to speak to the team: "They are bigger than we are," he began, "but that doesn’t make them better. Let’s do it tonight!"
Half. "Now’s the time to man up," began coach Lipsey. "Seniors, this is your last time against Gaffney. We play teams like this to get better. You are going against one of the best teams in the state. Laurens will be watching how you play. Work to get better every snap. I’m looking at you seniors to lead the team."
After. "You did play with pride in the second half," began Lipsey. "Good job seniors. Believe in each other. Work hard week by week. We will work on mistakes. This is not punishment. We have to get better. This circle of players and coaches is all that matters."
Quick hitters. Punter Nick Monroe had a great 55-yard punt that pinned Gaffney back on their own 11-yard line…Michael Mebane had a good 30-yard kick-off return called back by a penalty, another 30-yard run on another kick-off, and another run where he picked up an additional 15 yards on his own… Lamont Edney had a good night running the ball, getting a couple of 50-yard runs in… sadly, some of the fans’ "coaching" could be heard along the sidelines, prompting one coach to complain that they apparently didn’t know Union was playing a top-ten, 4A school (2,080 vs UCHS 1,017) and that the Jacket players were out there trying to learn how to play the game…with the score 42-0, Edney was still exhorting his teammates…during the half, kicker Alex Tucker was repeatedly making field goals from the 45-yardline…Deon Thompson had a great 25-yard runback on a kickoff… Neil Washington had a tackle for loss in the second half and attracted the coaches’ attention for his work ethic, desire to get better and his devotion to his siblings… Nick Monroe received high praise for his quarterbacking in the 4th quarter…and the coaches were pleased overall with the team’s attitude throughout the game.
The Journey continues. Laurens. Be there
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