Inside the Swarm – Laurens
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game. "It’s Friday," started coach Dave Lipsey, "and it’s time to go. Get it in gear. The JVs played really well and should have won. They competed and showed great improvement. We’re on a tight schedule tonight and want to get there early. Meet in the gym at 4:40 and get your heads right."
Team chaplain Robert Emory then introduced Robert Alexander, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Union, who is also a marathon runner.
"I’m a bit out of my comfort zone," began Alexander. "I played tag football, flag football and I know what the word ‘team’ means and the importance of a positive mind set.
"When I was younger, I listened to Christian music and one of my favorite Christian songs had a line that I never forgot: ‘If you do your best, and pray that it’s blessed, then God will take care of the rest.’ If I do my best, God will bless it, and I’ll be okay.
"To ‘win’ means different things to different people. How you win matters as well. Attitude and effort matters. Let me tell you a little story that illustrates what I’m talking about.
"There was this kid who liked to play stick ball. He would throw the ball in the air, announce, ‘I’m the world’s greatest hitter,’ swing his stick-bat and miss. ‘Strike one," he said. He then threw the ball into the air a second time, again said ‘I’m the world’s greatest hitter,’ swung and missed again, and announced, ‘Strike two.’ Again he threw the ball in the air, said ‘I’m the world’s greatest hitter,’ swung and missed for the third time. Strike three. At that point he proudly announced, ‘I’m the world’s greatest pitcher.’
"He changed his mindset and recognized what he was good at.
"Most of you know the story about Joseph who was thrown in a well, sold into slavery, but rose to the be second most powerful person in Egypt. From being in the well until he rose to a position of power, he had experienced a very difficult, tough life. He remained obedient to God and eventually God blessed him and in so doing, allowed him to assist his family in the time of famine.
"Daniel was a captive. People in the king’s court were against him but he remained true to God. He was thrown into the midst of lions but God sealed their mouths. He did his best, did what God wanted him to do, and eventually God ‘did the rest.’
"If you do your best, ask God to bless you, leave the rest to God.
"God gave you the skills to run, tackle, block, pass, and kick. Use it. Do your best. And God will take care of the rest.
"Finally, let me tell you about Two Frogs in the Cream: Two frogs fell into a can of cream, Or so I’ve heard it told; The sides of the can were shiny & steep, The cream was deep & cold. ‘O, what’s the use?’ croaked Number One, ‘Tis fate; no help’s around. Goodbye, my friends! Goodbye, sad world!’ And weeping still, he drowned. But Number Two, of sterner stuff, dog-paddled in surprise. The while he wiped his creamy face and dried his creamy eyes. ‘I’ll swim awhile, at least,’ he said-or so I’ve heard he said. ‘It really wouldn’t help the world if one more frog were dead.’ An hour or two he kicked & swam, Not once he stopped to mutter, But kicked & kicked & swam & kicked, then hopped out via the butter!’"
In the gym. (No pre-game meetings were held by the offense or defense.) "You have a great chance to do some really good things," began Lipsey. "We know where they are vulnerable but you must carry out your assignment. People play the game of football, not the X’s and O’s we coaches put on the board. YOU are the difference. Be emotionally ready to play. There will be a point where you have to dig down deep. Rise to the occasion and just do it. You need to approach every play like it is the last play you will ever make playing football. We have had a good week of practice. Show them what we’ve got. Get on your toes, keep your head up and chest out."
Before kick-off. "Relax," began coach Lipsey. "Enjoy another chance to play football on Friday night. If we get the toss, we’ll defer to the second half. If you see them in a new formation, don’t get rattled. You know what to do. Get low. Get low. Get under their pads. If you see something green and gold, hit it. Sidelines, stay in the game. You don’t know what play will be the key play in the game. Play smart. Wide open. Yellow Jacket football is all about pride. In week zero, against Chester, you played with reckless abandon and that’s what we need every week. Seniors set the tone."
At the half. Coach Lipsey told the team that they would not be able to take control until they stopped shooting themselves in the foot. "We gave them two gifts. We can’t play the game for you. Off-sides. Motion. We can’t do that. You can’t give them anything. We can move the ball but we are beating ourselves. This has got to stop. You have got to stop making mistakes. You are one block away from a score. I need some people who can turn it around. We are that close to turning it around."
After the game. After holding Laurens scoreless in the second half and scoring one TD, coach Lipsey challenged the team to stop making mistakes that cost the team. "False starts. Fumble. Poor snaps. They are all killing us. We need four quarters from you. At the half, you get fired up, and then play well the second half but you have to do that for the entire game. One more non-region game to get this out of our system. Broome is no slouch. The season is 40 percent over at this point. Mistakes are killing us."
Quick Hitters. Wide receiver Danny Grady proved he is a better wide receiver than pianist while trying to tickle the ivories on the chorus room piano prior to the start of the pre-game devotional… the team’s route to the Lauren’s stadium included narrow back roads, streets more like alleys, and an occasional four lane highway, all the courtesy of lead "scout" for the trip, trainer Doc Lipsey… it’s common to see players getting taped before the game, but Buzz, the Jacket mascot?... Kendrick Brewton made a big interception on Union’s own 20-yard line…Laurens kept eight in the box for most of the first half, daring Union to run…Jeremy Porter made a big 25-yard catch in the fist quarter for Union’s first offensive first down…Drell Smith had a big sack for a seven-yard loss giving Laurens 3rd down and 27… Smith and Desmond Floyd combined for another key sack in the 2nd quarter… Floyd had four tackles, three for sacks and Smith had four tackles with 2.5 sacks… in the second quarter, defensive back coach Clarence Sanders shouted "Pass. Pass," to the secondary, warning them about a quarterback lateral to the running back for a half-back pass which is exactly what happened putting the ball at Union’s one-yard line…Neil Washington was in on a lot of tackles… defensive back Chris Jeter has caught the coaches attention for his hard work and great attitude… Kingsley Duckett, Will Smith, Sylvester Moore, and Sherman Hawkins also were singled out for their improvement… Vic Howze was another Jacket whose work ethic has been noticed by the coaches… Nick Monroe came into the game under difficult conditions and received praise from the coaches for how well he handled it… it looks like Union has a rapidly maturing kicker by the name of Alex Tucker who put the ball in the end zone twice on kickoffs…with time running out, Nick Monroe got tagged on a play and was stumbling around on the field with the clock still ticking causing the coaches to shout, "Fall down. Fall down," which would stop the clock… he did.
The journey continues. Broome. At Union. Hall of Fame night. A lot of reasons to be there.
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