Inside the Swarm – Dorman
By: Paul Davis
Pre-game devotional. Coach Bobo began by reviewing the timeline for the rest of the evening and how they were to “walk the field” prior to the start of the game. “Our goal is improvement,” continued Bobo. “You know what needs improving. Special teams have to improve. We need to improve our third down conversions. Seniors, this is the last time you’ll ever open a season at Union County Stadium. Make it special. Seniors, lead. Underclassmen, follow.
“We have good coaches who are good people and many of them have sat where you are sitting. They understand the pressures and what you feel. Coach Chad Lawson is one of those and will bring the devotion.
“It is a privilege to stand before you,” began Lawson. “I’ve been where you are now and it’s really special to have a part in the Yellow Jacket football program.
“I want to talk to you about two things. The first is the Yellow Jacket football program. Football has always been a part of my life and I’ve been blessed to play football.” He followed those remarks by reading from a handout given to the players which describes a Yellow Jacket football player.
“A Yellow Jacket football player loves the game; he always thinks of the good of the team; he or she understands that players are made, not born; strives to reach their potential; is willing to give everything he has to the game; and represents what a small boy wants to become and an old man remembers.”
“Kids look up to you and want to be like you. You make this program what it is, not the coaches.
“Secondly, everything comes down to what you do with Christ. I say I ‘love’ the game of football. We all say that we ‘love’ something. I ‘love’ food so much that when I sweat I smell like bacon and then I get hungry. My life changed when I met Christ. I tried to live life my way. It didn’t work. The greatest love story is how God sent his Son to die for us. For people who use His name in vein and who turn their backs on Him. God KNEW all this when He sent His Son. You all know John 3:16. I have a son. He had a seizure recently and that hurt me. How much more did it hurt God to see his Son suffer and die on the cross? Many of you saw The Passion of Christ. It was a horrible way to die.”
As Lawson continued his discussion about Christ on the cross, he put a small wooden cross on the desk, took a hammer and a piece of metal, and struck the metal repeatedly, symbolic of the nails being driven into Christ’s body. “People mocked Him. They even gambled for His clothes. Jesus gave His all for me. No one else would do that. I’m in awe that God would do that for me.
“There are three kinds of people in this room: those who know Jesus Christ but who are not following Him; those who don’t know Jesus Christ; and those who know Jesus and are following Him. When you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you how much money you made, how popular you are, or about football. The only thing He’s gonna ask is, do you know my son Jesus? The only alternative to ‘Yes,’ is hell. What will you tell Him?”
The offense. Coach Bobo began by reviewing some offensive plays. “We want to emphasize two things tonight,” continued Bobo, “and that’s third down conversion and finishing the drive and scoring. We don’t need a 12 play drive and then no score. We can have a one play drive IF we score. Last Friday, we didn’t score on our first drive. A penalty stopped us. Be aggressive but when we get a penalty, we have to overcome it. The toughest penalty to overcome is a third down penalty. That gives us just one shot.”
Coach Kevin Lancaster told the team that the quarterback would be calling two plays and they had to talk to each other. In the JV game, we got to the ball quickly and we could go just as soon as the call came in while their defense was adjusting.”
When the rest of the offense left the room, Coach Lancaster talked with the offensive line. “There is NO reason why we shouldn’t dominate the line of scrimmage,” began Lancaster, “if we have five working as one. We have good offensive line, the best in a long while. We have a lot of depth. Pin their ears back. Know how many are in the box. Make them get in the box.
“I feel really good with our scheme but it all comes down to execution. You have to execute. Look at the perimeter. Talk to each other. They will bring pressure.
After tonight you should be one and one. Hey, who is doing our punting tonight? ‘No one.’ I don’t want us to have to punt one time. Remember, every play is designed to score.”
The D. Coach Mike Hawkins reminded the defense that if they come out in trips open, “We go. Kickoff team, we didn’t make the play last week. We’ll kick to their left and will adjust later. There are three things I’m looking for tonight: First, I want to see you get physical and aggressive; second, I want to see everyone in the right alignment which will put you in position to make the play; third, turn up your enthusiasm. Exert yourself more on every play which shouldn’t be hard as no one will be going both ways. You have to make the play. You have to get yourself in position to make the play. And guys, we can NOT wait until the first conference game to improve. I’m not satisfied with where we are. The time to get better is now.”
Coach Jay Brannon started by asking, “In goal line, who is out? Talk to each other and relay calls across the field. Everything for tonight is automatic. I am looking for something I’ve not seen so far and that’s eleven black hats within five yards of the ball.”
Minutes away. Just minutes away from the kickoff, Coach Bobo gathered the team in the locker room under the stands. “Questions? None? Okay, everyone together when we come out. Walk two by two. When you claim the field, don’t break it down until the 20 yard line. I don’t know what to do to get you ready. Music? Talk? It’s what’s inside you. It comes from inside you which says this game means something to you.”
At the half. Frustrated with the lack luster performance of the Jackets, Coach Bobo vented his frustrations as the Jackets gathered by the baseball infield.
“This was as sorry an excuse for effort as I have seen in a long time,” began Bobo. “The sidelines are not involved either. What’s it gonna come down to? What’s it gonna take for you to get ready? No enthusiasm on any part of the game. They took it to the 30 on the kickoff. Some of you on defense just want to be cool.
Some of you seem more worried about press clippings than the game. Dorman came here to play, not to be cool. It’s time for a gut check. Can you come out of a hole? I am not mad at you. I am just trying to challenge you. You will have to decide whether you want to be cool or good.”
It’s over. “That was much better,” began Bobo, referring to the second half performance. “We played two different ball games. The game films will tell the story and we’ll be looking at them this weekend. As coaches, all we can do is to try and lead and motivate you. The rest is up to you. Seniors, remember how the team came together last season? No one is leading now. No one. Do you want respect? Do you respect yourselves? Those who want to lead, will the others follow you? Look into the mirror when you get home and see what you see. You are better than you played. You can be as good as you WANT to be. Do the right things over the weekend. I love each of you but I am very disappointed with what I saw tonight, particularly in the first half.”
Tackles and touchdowns. Spotted in the classroom during football devotions: dreadlocks (well, that’s different but not unique), a pink purse (now that’ll get your attention) and orange-fingernails (a first for sure)… nose guard Michael Pack roamed the sidelines when not in the game, encouraging his teammates, on and off the field… what a difference two plays make: the TD called back because of illegal motion and the fumble run back for a TD… Midway BBQ caters the pre-game meal of chicken, green beans, baked potatoes, and Texas toast with honey, Union’s standard fare for a very long time.
The journey continues. Gaffney at home. 7:30. Be there. The improving Jackets will be.
© Paul L Davis, 5 Sept, 2006
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