Inside the Swarm - Woodmont
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game devotional. Coach David Lipsey began by telling the team that they would be following a little different schedule because of the long trip to Woodmont. "In the future, I want to hear about you graduating from college, being successful in whatever career you choose.
" This is a big game with great weather. They have not been in the playoffs before and they will all be juiced. Get focused. No horseplay. An area sports announcer on a sports talk show commented on tonight’s game saying that Woodmont’s game was their first time in the play-offs and "they would get a real dose of what it means to be in the play-offs."
Team chaplain Robert Emory began the devotion time by pointing out what a great job Coach Yoneko Washington did substituting for her pastor-husband during the Gaffney pre-game devotional. "Now, her husband, Lorenzo is gonna finally get his chance. Give him a good hand as he tries to out-do his wife."
"It’s a privilege to stand before you," began Washington. "You’ve had a good season and are in the play-offs. Are you ready? I want to talk to you about one word – determination. I’ll try and cut this short.
"What does that word mean?" he asked the team. One of the players suggested ‘the will to do something.’
"Good answer," he continued. "If you are determined, nothing can stop you. Woodmont has nothing like Union’s determination. Nothing can stop you. You can achieve if you believe, if you are determined to do your best.
"You need to be determined to make your life the best life for Jesus Christ. Mark 2 talks about a situation where there was a man who could not walk. Jesus was in town and his four friends knew that if they could get their friend to Jesus, he would be healed. The problem was Jesus was in a house and there was no way into the house. But they were determined. By the way, ‘determined’ has five syllables and ‘five’ is the number for ‘grace,’ the grace of God.
"So, they picked him up on a litter, carried him up the steps to the roof. You have to be determined to look after your friends and teammates. Once on the roof, they had to get their friend into the room where Jesus was so they poked a big hole in the roof and lowered their friend into the room and the presence of Jesus. There were obstacles but they overcame them.
"If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and are determined to follow him, that equals success. We beat Chester this year after loosing last year. You were determined to win. You need to be determined in life. Are you really determined to beat Woodmont? It’s all of you together. The man in the Bible story had four friends who were determined to help him, no matter what, knowing that if he got in the presence is Jesus, he would be healed. Success.
"A lot of people wanted to be in the play-offs. Tonight, are you determined to win? Defense, can you stop them? Offense, can they stop you?
"If you are determined to make it in life, with Jesus Christ, you will win."
With the defense. Team meetings were held with their coaches on the field prior to the game. Coach Chip Bailey began by reminding the reward for winning tonight was the chance to play next week. "They are the number two seed and expect to win but we can take them if you play up to your capabilities. When you want to play hard, like Chester, you win. Watch for trick plays. On a wheel route, cover three. Don’t let get any cheap points. Watch the bubble screen early. When you rush the quarterback, stay in control because he is a good athlete and can make a play. You have got to tackle. If they have two tight ends, go fifty-three zero. Two tight ends and three backs, fifty-three Cowboy. You have got to play four quarters instead of two. There is nothing left to say. Just go out and do it."
Coach Todd Davis added that they Jackets were picked to loose. "I don’t want to stay home next Friday. You have to go to war tonight."
Before the kick-off. "You have to play four quarters of football," began Lipsey. "If they get up, stick with it. If we get up, don’t let up. We need an all-out effort. You are prepared to be here. The heat, weight room, summer sprints. Now it is down to who wants it most. Whoever wants it most will go 100 percent on every play.
"Play your assignment on Special Teams. Defense, get after number seven. You know what they will do. Talk to each other. Be in the right gap. If we don’t contain the quarterback, we’ll have a problem. We have to win the game upfront. Stay low, keep your feet running.
"Four quarters is all the football you have left. Don’t get down if you make a mistake. Your teammate will help you up. You can’t let one play beat you."
At the half. "Go out and win the football game," began Lipsey. "Go win the game. Get some fire. There’s too much moping around. Twenty-four minutes left. Someone will stay home. Someone will go."
After the game in the gym. Lipsey began by explaining the procedures for turning in the equipment. "Time goes fast. I hope you learned some things that you can apply for the rest of your life. We (coaches) are still here and want to help you, particularly you seniors. Seniors are fixing to move on. I hate this feeling that we all have. I can’t coach Monday. But it’s life. Seniors, the next thing for you is the ACT or SAT. Go make life happen. The Good Lord will help you. Don’t just stand around and let things happen to you. Do yourself proud. You have zero excuses! No excuses. You can be as good as you want to be. You underclassmen need to get in the weight room with coach Nelson. There are no excuses not to get your grades. You underclassmen, ninth, tenth, and eleventh-graders, make a pact with each other to be the best you can be. Get in that weight room and dedicate yourself to getting stronger."
Quick hitters. Co-captains were Clay Moore, Sylvester Moore, Kelvin Hardy, and Kendrick Brewton…the remaining seniors joined them on the coin toss just off the hash marks…there is clearly no apparent requirement for officials to be in shape…one sideline official was observed using what appeared to be a cell phone during the game…sophomore Dierris Beacham had a good 20-yard return on a kick-off… the Woodmont defensive line stood up and started running in place just before Union snapped the ball which got the Jackets a 20-yard run by Lamont Edney…Tevin Thompson had several tackles for loss, something he has done all season long… penalties, some of which were questionable, really dogged the Jackets all night long, calling back an early touchdown… Edney congratulated his offensive line for their good job of blocking…kicker Alex tucker got a couple of kick-offs into the end zone, a powerful defensive weapon… Kendrick Brewton made a huge tackle in the 4th quarter preventing a likely passing TD…Nick Jackson made a big tackle for loss making it second and twenty for Woodmont… sophomore Desmond Floyd (who had a great year) combined with sophomore Jordan Sims for a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter…Sims had another tackle for loss ….
Epilogue. I’ve been travelling with the Jackets for thirteen years. Every year except three (where we won the State Championship), tears have been shed by Jacket players at the end of their season, particularly seniors. A lot of tears were shed in 1989 when Union lost to Fairfield-Central in the Upper State Championships. But the next year the Jackets went 14-1 to win the State Championship. Probably the most tears were shed when we lost the State Championship in 2001 after having won in 1999 and 2000. This year, a lot of sophomores got valuable playing time as did the juniors. Coaches are pleased with their performance and are excited by what they see coming up in the 8th and 9th grade classes. Prediction: There will be no "one and out" next year and it’s only going to get better. Plus, they’re going to get better at running the winged-T, a defensive coach’s nightmare.
© Paul L Davis, 12 Nov, 2008
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