Inside the Swarm - Greer
By: Paul Davis
“This past summer, way back in January, we talked about this year. Seniors, enjoy it. Unlike the underclassmen, there is no ‘next year,’” began Coach Bobo. “The season is over fast. Seniors, this is your 10th game. This season has gone very fast. You have one regular season game left. Around 8:30, your regular season ends.
You have written nine chapters so far. You are gonna write number 10 together. You will have Chapter 11 and maybe more. At 8:30 our record will be 0-0 but coming off a win will give us momentum.
“I got a call this afternoon from another coach about whether we could upset Greer or not. No. An upset occurs only if no one thinks something can happen. We know we can beat Greer so that’s not an upset.”
Coach Jenkins began the devotion by reminding the team that he had been with them since they were on the Sims Junior High teams and now varsity. “As assistant coaches,” he continued, “we don’t often get a chance to talk to the team as a whole and I appreciate this chance.
“On the board is the Serenity Prayer and it’s a prayer that I say every day:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
“I answer to many bosses so I have to say this every day. There are so many things I have to do every day and I have to do them one at a time. Like football, one block at a time, one play at a time.
“The coaches believe in you. That you can win the State Championships. We really do believe you can do it. Don’t think for one second we don’t believe in you. But you do it, one snap, one play, one catch at a time.
“We are pluggers. A plugger is a person who goes to work with no fanfare, works hard, and does his job well. You have heard that ‘football is life.’ No. We are playing a GAME. But it is a microcosm of life. Football is part of your identity. We do learn some lessons about life from playing football, from working together, and from making sacrifices for the good of the team. A lot of times, life is ‘third and long.’ Fans put a lot of pressure on you. They want to see that you care. Your effort means something.
“I’m an emotional person. I love you and have been with you since 7th grade. I spend more time with you than I do my own family. All the coaches do. So far, this season has not gone as we expected. I really, really thought we could be 10-0…maybe not Gaffney...we all knew they were going to be tough. I want you to claim your "moment in time". We still have great moments ahead. Beating Greer anytime classifies as "a Moment" but on top of that we’re playing the region champs in their house on a beautiful Saturday night. What else could you ask for?”
At that point, Jenkins introduced two videos that he had put together of team pictures shot over the season, the first one was a tribute to the Senior class and was set to the song "One Moment in Time".
The second video began with an aerial shot of Union County Stadium and ended with a still shot of hands holding a trophy with “We Write” as a caption. This showed the best plays of the season set to "It's My Life"
In the gym. Coach Bobo simply told the team that there wasn’t much to talk about and they knew what they had to do. He then led the team in the Lord’s Prayer.
“Seniors, you stay,” continued Bobo.
“I am proud of every one of you. Some have given a lot, some more than others. Last year, the team challenged the seniors before the play offs. What is it going to take to raise your level of play? The last two weeks, you have done that. What are you going to do to raise it again? What can you do as a group to provide more leadership, to rise to a higher level?
“Pull for each other,” said a couple of the Jackets, along with other replies.
“If you are on the sidelines,” continued Bobo, “and someone on the field makes a mistake, pick them up when they come to the sidelines. Those of you on the sidelines, keep in the game. You’ve done great so far.”
Before the kickoff. While waiting for Coach Bobo to speak to the team, you could have heard a pin drop… Coach Mike Hawkins took a solitary walk into the dark corners of the school building adjacent to the field… “Playing on Saturday is new for us,” began Bobo, “but good teams create their own excitement from within. The first five minutes are critical. You need to be ready if you are on the kickoff team. Seniors, follow the co-captains when they go on the field. Seniors, lead us. Lots of folks don’t think you can beat Greer. You all must play hard every play. Watch running your mouth. The officials have warned us that they won’t put up with it. Sidelines, keep back and encourage players as they come off the field.”
At the half. Freddie Bates bounced through the crowd of Jackets encouraging them to “Keep your heads up.” Coach Bobo began by acknowledging that a mistake had been made leading to a last second score. “We are in a dog fight,” continued Bobo. “We didn't get a call we should have got but the guys in black and white striped shirts are always right. We are up 9-7. We must overcome mistakes. We are playing the region champs and it means something. We have GOT to be able to run the ball. There are 24 minutes left in the regular season. For you seniors, there are no more regular season games.”
After. Coach Bobo acknowledged that they were hurting at that point but that we would see them again. Several Jacket players were very vocal about wanting to get the chance to play Greer again. “We got in trouble because we couldn’t keep our composure,” continued Bobo. “There were bad calls both ways. The officials had to tell me to tell you to shut up. Both sides made mistakes. This on-field bickering and talking has got to stop. You say you want them again. Do you really want them again? Okay, then you have to find a way to raise your level of play. You have to find a way to win.”
Quick hitters. Co-captains for the game were Travis Sims, Gerone McBeth, Jay Crawford, and Rodricius Henderson…the sideline players have been much more vocal in recent games…the coaching staff was highly critical of the officiating during the game while acknowledging that no single call directly affected the outcome of the game with the possible exception of the onside “recovery” by Greer at the end of the first half with a Jacket player having the ball…before leaving Greer for Union, defensive coordinator Mike Hawkins was effusive in his praise of the defense: “I couldn’t be prouder of you,” said Hawkins. “I feel very confident when we play Greenville. We can beat them if we focus like we did tonight and the last two weeks. You hold your own destiny. Next week we have to win. I have every confidence in your ability. You are playing with a great deal of confidence. I am really, really proud of you.”
The Journey continues. Greenville. Friday. The Jackets will be ready.
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