Inside the Swarm – Spartanburg
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game Devotional. "You’re in the spotlight tonight," began coach David Lipsey. "All eyes are on us. We’ll leave at 5:15 so you have to hit the schedule on time. Marcus Lott will be playing against Penn State Saturday and a former Jonesville quarterback will start against Oklahoma. The game is between your eyes. No horseplay."
Team chaplain Robert Emory began by acknowledging that they had a good week of training. "I’ve seen a lot of football games over the years and the game Friday has to be one of the top five I have ever seen. You put it on the line and are ready for the next step." At that point, he introduced Coach Brian Smith, in his first year with the Jackets, who would bring the devotional.
"I have always wanted to play big teams like Union does. I wanted to be with players who care, with coaches who care, and in a town which cares. That’s why I came here.
"Why do you play football? This is not a rhetorical question.
"Hitting people…love the sport….winning…having fun…working hard" were some of the replies.
"Look, coaches coach for some of the same reasons. I really believe being around you keeps me younger. This is a great time in your life. Seniors, twenty percent of your senior football year is over after tonight. Don’t end your season with regrets.
"One of the reasons I went into teaching is that Christian men are needed in education to act as role models. There are three major values that I want to mention.
"First, is Faith. You’ve gotta have faith. In something. In God. In your coaches. In each other. In your family.
Second, is Family. My wife was adopted. The Smith family will drive two hours tonight to see the game. There are a lot of different families in this room: single parent, grandparents, an aunt. As a team, we are a family.
Third, is Integrity. Doing the right thing when no one is watching. We coaches count on you. You count on me.
"What does the bible say about football? Let me read from Colossians 3:23-24: "
"It doesn’t say anything about winning or loosing. Just working hard. Paul was a prisoner in a society that, like ours, has lost its sense of value. I don’t want my kids to hear bad language.
"In First Corinthians 10:31, Paul says that whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. When you make a tackle, make it for the glory of God. When I think of the movie, The Passion of Christ, it makes me cringe when I think of what He went through for me.
"Why do you play? We all want to win. Play tonight for a reason. For a scholarship. For someone. Tonight have a reason for playing. Don’t slack up. I have had two athletes that died, one in college and one in high school. You have the initials of two girls on your helmets. Play for them. Play for your family. Little kids are watching you.
"You were a family last week. Love each other. Count on each other. You can count on the coaches."
Coach Lipsey concluded the meeting by noting that he had a great relationship with his coaches and "…they make me better."
With the offense. "Last week was a great team effort," began coach Dave Mannes. "It’s something to build on. We had some good, some bad. Only one turnover. We missed some position goals. Tonight we have to keep the ball. They will line up wide and try to stick it to us. No one knows how the game will go. Last week you did what you needed to do to win, a team effort. Special teams, offense and defense. During this season, we will have to play that way in order to win. We need it again tonight. We have to do better on penalties and false starts. We have to create some positives.
"Play with the same effort and intensity. Be alert for a dead play where we try to draw them off side. Line, come off low and hard. Protect the gaps. Play hard.
"I don’t know who put that on the board ("If it is to be it’s up to me.") but that’s what I’m talking about."
Offensive line coach Bryan Robinson reminded the offense that Spartanburg would bring pressure off the ends and how important it was for the tailbacks to maintain their blocks.
"They’re Big 16, 4A. We cut them last year. It’s payback time for them. They are a good team out for revenge. Prove to their fans that we’re good. Prove to them it was no fluke last week. Play hard with emotion. You fought and clawed last week. Finish the deal against Spartanburg."
In the gym. After reviewing the special team lineups, coach Lipsey began by reminding them that Spartanburg was better than Chester. "Special teams played a big part in the win last week. Carry out your assignments. Our approach in ’08 is all out. That is how we MUST play every week. Sell out. Play smart. Cut penalties. No out of bound hits. The penalties last week were mostly because of being aggressive. Keep battling. Go hard. Turn it loose. Play loose. You can’t play well if you are tight.."
Game time. "Get after them from the git go. Don’t wait. Get your calls. Get in position. Lower your pads and hit hard. Let them be high. Get low. You went to the ball last week. Play like you practice. Be the hardest hitting players on the field. Attack. Attack. Sidelines, keep in the game. This is your chance to go 2-0. Seniors, you will never play another game on this field. Go get it."
At the half. The Jacket’s play during the first half wasn’t very pretty and neither was coach Lipsey’s critique. "You’re on your heels, your tackling is pitiful, you’re getting blown out, you’re not playing physical and it’s a shame that fans have paid to see that kind of play." After an extensive critique, he challenged the team’s leaders to step up. "Where are my leaders? Who is gonna step up and lead? This is a man’s game!" Before the Jackets met with position coaches, Alex Tucker was one of the Jackets exhorting his teammates to increase their second half effort.
After. "Give me your eyes and ears," began coach Lipsey. "We are the same as last year, 1-1. We were not physical tonight. They manhandled us. We have a long way to go. We have eight weeks left. How are you gonna handle it? It doesn’t get any easier. We don’t play patsies. You need to realize that champions do get beat. We weren’t physical. The difference was night and day. The offensive line got whipped. There is no shame in getting beat if you have a winning effort. I hope this loss stings. Where do you go from here? Next game is even harder. Let us coach you. Last year you got better every game and we got on a roll. It’s about pride. "
Quick hitters. The officiating crew which awarded over 200 yards of penalties during the game was supposedly the number one officiating crew in the state… with 26.5 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter, the scoreboard had the score 7-1…Deon Thompson had a couple of great catches in the first half… Lamont Edney had some great runs during the second half where he simply would not be denied, somewhat attributed to his attitude, according to coaches… Nick Jackson was one of those sideline players who were encouraging his teammates to "Get your helmets up."… sideline support improved during the second half…coaches were pleased with Dierris Beacham’s running, Nick Monroe’s (QB, TE, kicker) willingness to do whatever would help the team, and sophomore Desmond Floyd’s (DE, WR) five tackles with three for loss…during Tuesday’s practice, one of the defensive coaches noted that "number two" (junior DB Carlos Smith) s going to get some playing time."
The Journey Continues. September 12th. Home. Gaffney. Nothing else to be said.
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