Inside the Swarm – Greer
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game devotional. "Show time," began coach David Lipsey. "We are on a short schedule tonight. Go to Greer with a purpose. The trip is to play football. Big game. You have sacrificed for this. Go into their house to win."
At that point, Mr. Joe Walker, UCHS principal, was introduced.
After beginning with prayer, Walker began by talking about being evaluated on his job. "The superintendent evaluates me and that’s important but what I really try to focus on is evaluating how well I am doing according to my own expectations. As a basketball coach, I always was evaluating myself. How am I doing? How is our team doing?
"One of the questions you need to ask yourself is, ‘Did I do what I was coached to do?’ When I got out of coaching and became an assistant principal, my station during a football game was by the bleachers. I could hear the fans ‘coaching’ the team. They must think that coaches call a play which is intended to only get two yards. Coach Lipsey won’t make a single tackle tonight and not a single block.
"Why did you work hard all year except to be the best you can be? You’ve seen people take a cheap shot on the field. Look me in the eye and come at me but don’t give me a cheap shot. Are you taking cheap shots in life? Remember, what goes around comes around.
"You have three choices: coach, officiate, or play. All of you need to play and leave the coaching and officiating to others. On your jerseys, some of you have your name and you have earned it. But, what really needs to be there are the names of everyone who has made it possible for you to play football."
At that point, Walker asked Danny Grady and Neil Washington to come to the front and asked them to clap together. "You can’t beat Greer with two people," he said. Then he asked the offensive line to stand and clap in unison. Then the defense. Then the skill players and special team players, each group clapping in unison.
"You notice how much louder it is when you all clap together," he continued. "Someone has to lead (in the clapping) and everyone has a job on this team. If every play goes right, you’ll win. If someone on the kick-off team decides to go out of their lane, then Greer runs it back for a TD.
"Jesus was the greatest coach who ever lived. He had the ultimate power. Jesus never turned His back on anyone. He was a motivator. He was not a quitter. Your coaches won’t quit. Did you do your job the way you are supposed to? You need to self-evaluate."
Walker then read from Isaiah 40:25-31 and then acknowledged that while he couldn’t call the name of everyone in the room, Jesus could. "He knows the number of hairs on your head. You know, I have called on Jesus many times and I never got a busy signal. Never. I think that I understand a lot but I don’t know how God understands each of us. You’ll be tired tonight. Talk to God between plays. You have gotten stronger in the weight room but you’ll get a lot stronger from the strength that comes from God."
At that point Walker acknowledged that, unlike a lot of county athletes he had never been inducted in a Hall of Fame. "But you know, I got a couple of emails recently, one of them from a former athlete that is now a pastor." After reading them, he acknowledged that their acknowledging his influence in their lives meant more to him than any Hall of Fame induction."
Before the kick-off. "If you are not ready tonight, you’ll never be," began Lipsey. "Smash mouth football. Hit, hit, hit for four quarters. It will be a physical football game. You have got to be tough. We should dictate the offense. Their running back is averaging seven yards a carry. Your last six quarters have been good defense. Break their wheels. They will get frustrated. We’re ready. They haven’t worked as hard as you have. Game One in the region. Play for each other. Go with everything you have. Show them what you’ve got."
Coach Bryan Robinson told the team that "…they have shown you no respect and these sideline jerks in the end zone have never played a snap. While you were busting your tails this summer, they were playing video games. Claim your first step."
At the half. Coach Lipsey gathered his seniors together. "Get your heads up," he began. "You’ve been here before. How are you gonna handle it? This is it. Four games left. Don’t loose control. No jawing. Concentrate on football. The team needs you. They are counting on you. Remember how you battled."
Addressing the remaining part of the team, Lipsey told the team that there was a reason he separated the seniors from the team. "I need them. You need them. They need you. We have got to get after it. I need for you to play. What happens this half will affect the rest of the season. You’ve gotta go. Some of their success was our fault. It’s time for you to man up. I’m gonna battle every play. How about you? We will find out what kind of team we have in the second half."
After. "Last year," began Lipsey, "the seniors responded after the Riverside game. We will do everything we know to do to help you get better. Four games left, seniors. Juniors, raise you hands. You will be in the same spot the seniors are next year. If you sophomores and juniors don’t hurt for the seniors, there is something wrong with you. We coaches aren’t perfect but I promise you, you will get all we have. Riverside will be our focus next week. If you mistake, make it all out. Winning effort is everything. Winning is not everything. Effort is everything. Play for the black and gold. Play for each other."
Quick hitters. Defensive back Erik Beaty was the last Jacket who could have made a tackle on Greer runners on three separate occasions, preventing a TD run on each of those plays…Neil Washington made a big tackle for loss forcing Greer into a 4th and 16…Robert Littlejohn handled kick-offs really well and had a good 15-yard return… when Lamont Edney broke loose for a 65-yard TD run, he benefited from two key blocks from his quarterback, Nick Monroe, and wide receiver Jeremy Porter… Alex Tucker put another kick-off into the end zone… sophomore Desmond Floyd, who plays both ways, had a key tackle for loss in the first quarter… two offensive highlights in the second half were key receptions by tight ends Tate Knox and Aaron West… Knox played for the Jackets in his freshman year. He then moved and played for Mid-Carolina who runs – guess what? – the double wing in his sophomore year. Ironically, he played for Mid-Carolina the Friday before the Greer game, suited up for Union, and got in two practices last week. … both tight ends got high marks from the coaches for their work ethic in practice and their game effort… "You can’t spell Jackets with a ‘G,’" observed Lamont Edney… what happened in the end zone after the game could turn out to be the most significant thing that has happened all year. Seniors Tevin Thompson and Dewayne Rogers challenged the team to understand and respect what was at stake for the seniors. "We only have four games left," continued Thompson. "You need to get real, man. You need to practice like you expect to play. Some of you aren’t taking this serious. You’re laughing. Watching the girls. It’s not about the coaches. It’s about the team."…time will tell.
The Journey Continues. Riverside. On rebound. Be there.
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