Inside the Swarm – Gaffney

 

By: Paul Davis

Pre-game devotion. - It’s 3:35 and Coach Bobo has finished reviewing the timeline. “There’s not a lot to say,” continued Bobo. “At 7:30, it will be like a bunch of crazed dogs on the field. I have no doubt you are ready to play, physically, but I don’t know about the mental part. Once the games starts, we will know if you are focused.

“You know we have forgotten to emphasize that you are supposed to have fun,” as he wrote “F U N” on the board. “Enjoy it,” he continued. “Seniors you only have eight games guaranteed, baring injury. That’s when the regular season ends. Unlike 4A, no one is guaranteed a playoff spot. We’ll play more than eight games. Make the most out of your opportunities. Pay attention to the game.”

At that point, Bobo introduced Coach Maurice Phillips who would bring the devotion.

“Guys, when it’s all over, what will matter most?” he began. “Sports? What really matters? Think about the life you have ahead of you. In football, you owe it to your teammates to give it all you have. The guys on the bench help the number one man get better. Everyone wants to go to the State Championships. I did. But I didn’t get the chance and learned that it wasn’t the end of the world. 

“Some of you maybe have a child. What do you want for that child’s life? Some of you smoke weed. Some drink. Some of you do some other things. Look, I did some stupid things when I was your age but it didn’t make me a ‘man.’ In 1984, when I was coming out of a McDonalds in Gaffney, an evangelist asked me if I had a personal relationship with Christ. I told him I didn’t. I accepted Christ and it became the most important decision I ever made.

“What do you expect to do after you are finished playing football. One day you’re going to stand before God. All of us will. He is not going to ask you about how many catches you had or how many pancake blocks you made. He’s gonna to ask you just one question: ‘Do you know my Son Jesus?’ Jesus said that he would never leave us. If you don’t know him, you can accept him now. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes. No one looking. Christ is all you need. While I pray, all you have to do is to ask Him to come into your life. It’s not too late. Tomorrow may be.” Phillips then ended the meeting with prayer.”

“Coach Phillips was out front with you,” said Bobo, “and only you can make the right decision. Let’s have fun tonight. Sometimes even coaches have fun. All of you can out-jump Coach Brannon. His shoelaces never leave the ground. You know, you have 48 minutes to play football. That’s a little more than half of your first period class.”

The defense. Coach Mike Hawkins began by reminding the defense about how they were playing the punt block. “No roughing the kicker,” he continued.

“You will have to lay out in front of the kicker. Kickoff team, we have to cover better. I want to play defense with the ball on their 30-yardline.”

“We are more prepared than we have been the last two weeks,” continued Hawkins, “and we have a good game plan. It is simple. Just execute it. Be physical and run to the football. Run through the block or tackle. I want to see what happened last year when you were called the most physical defense in the region. Start peaking now. Dominate the line. We are quicker than Gaffney. If you are not ready, that’s your fault.”

Offense. Coach Bobo began by reviewing some of the offense’s plays, defensive alignments, and play calls.

Coach Kevin Lancaster asked the four receivers to stand and challenged them to make something happen. “You have got to make a difference,” he continued.

“Make the effort. We don’t need to start playing in the second half. You are playing Gaffney, that should get you excited. Make something happen. I challenged the offensive line on Tuesday. Wideouts, make it happen.”

Minutes before kickoff. “We don’t need any showboating,” shouted Bobo. “We want substance. You are not only defending your team’s reputation, you’re defending your family, your school, and your community. Those who established the reputation of this program had something called ‘class.’ Do your talking with your pads and feet. If this is just a ‘game,’ then we don’t need to practice on Monday. Are you as good as you should be at this point? When this game is over, can you look at your teammates and say, ‘I gave it all I had?’

At the half. “Get here in tight,” began Bobo. “I’m not gonna question your enthusiasm. I’m not gonna question your interest. But I am questioning your thinking. In Buzz, and Jacket, it’s Blitz. It’s not happening. Offensive line – we have not had the chance to run the ball. They are t-ing off on us. We are in a backyard fight. You had better fight during the second half or they will name the score. LJ, that was a bad interference call you got but we have to keep on working. We have played THEM and us. We’ve had our nose bloodied. This second half will probably tell us more about our team than the first two games.”

Just before heading back on the field, Bobo called them together. “We are going to find out about effort and execution this half,” began Bobo. “We will go to war in Region with those who aren’t pointing fingers. We have 24 minutes of hard-nose football ahead of us. Pin their ears back. Their defense will be coming like scalded dogs.”

Quick count. When the team filed off the bus at the stadium and headed toward the field, one of the Gaffney players filing off his bus did a double-take and then another double-take as the poney-tailed Brooke Jackson passed by…even when the game was no longer in doubt, several of those on the sidelines were vocally encouraging each other and those on the field.

After. “If anyone comes up to you and criticizes this game tonight,” began Bobo, “tell them the blame is on me. I didn’t get you ready. We took a beating tonight, on both sides of the ball. Be ready to play at 3:45 Monday. You’ll feel much better by that time and will have a good attitude. Now we are in the region. Seniors, eight more games. We need more from you. You seniors remember how we started the season last year and how we came together in the region. What happened in the locker room after our fifth loss? You put up a sign which said, ‘Home of the Region Champions.’ I believe you can do it again but you will have to motivate yourselves. We CAN win the Region Championship. And you know, I think that you are closer together at this moment than you have been all season.”

The Region begins. After being taken to the “woodshed” by Gaffney, Union may decide it’s time to “chop some wood” themselves. The “chips” should fly

Friday night. 7:30. Be there.

 

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