Inside the Swarm - Greer II

 

By: Paul Davis

The pre-game devotion. “Last week, 16 teams started the playoffs,” began Coach Tommy Bobo, “eight this week. Before you left the field after the Greer game, you said you wanted them again. Well, you have your chance. What you need to focus on is getting ready for 7:30.

“Coach Farmer is a coach who means a lot to me. I knew him as a player and as a coach and he is going to bring the devotion tonight.”

“I am honored to be here to talk with you,” began Farmer. “ We are stuck together, you and me. I keep up with you and stay in touch with your coaches.

Congratulations on making the playoffs. I have tried to carry the Union tradition which I learned as a player and a coach, to Chapman.” (At that point, Farmer took of his windbreaker to show a Yellow Jacket shirt.)

“I want to talk to you about Job whose story is a lot like yours. Job had it all – family and great wealth - but he experienced great adversity. He was very wealthy. God and Satan are having a discussion and God asks Satan if he has considered Job, a man who is blameless, who fears God, and who avoids evil.

“Satan chides God by saying that of course, he is good, because God had built a wall of protection around him. And that if God takes away His protection, Job would sin turn his back on God.

“God says fine. Test him all you want but do not take his life. Job lost his family. He lost his house and all his wealth and then Satan afflicted him with terrible sores but he would not turn his back on God.

“His wife urged him to curse God for all the bad things which had happened to him. 

“Now, I am not saying Union is being treated like Job, but there are some similarities. You have lost some games. You’ve had a lot of negatives thrown at you by injuries and some ‘fans.’ Every team you play has you in their sights. You have stayed faithful to each other and have stayed together.

“When I was interviewed for the Chapman job, and they asked me about coaching, I didn’t tell them about our State Championship years. I told them about coaching when you are 0-5. Remember, it’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you finish.

“You know you can win. You outplayed them two weeks ago – I was there - and were just one play away from a win. Tonight, you don’t have to play over your head. All you have to do is to play Union football and have fun. Job remained faithful to God. At the end of the Book of Job, we see that God repaid Job with twice the wealth that he had previously. The latter part was greater than the first…just like your season.

“I’m still part of the Jackets. It is supposed to be hard now and the game will probably go to the team who wants it most. You CAN do it.”

Minutes to go. “Seniors,” began Coach Bobo, “their goal last season was to beat Union. Our goal is to bear Greer. You have 48 minutes to play football.

We don’t have to play over our heads but we will. It will be a war.”

At the half. “Two weeks ago,” began Bobo, “the team ahead at the half lost. We had two bad plays. Stay together. Play just as hard the second half and eliminate the mistakes. Just 24 minutes of football left. Seniors, will this be your last 24 minutes of playing Union football? We have to make a statement at the start of the half. They scored twice off our mistakes. We have to shut them down.”

It’s over. “Seniors, come to the front,” began Bobo, “I am proud of how you played tonight on offense and defense. I hurt for you seniors. Don’t’ be afraid to shed a tear. You did your best and I am proud of you. Underclassmen, the seniors did a great job leading you (the team applauded). Next week, we will be getting with you to see how we can help you get to the next level and play football. I want to talk to each one of you before you leave the field tonight.”

Quick hitters. Union had the best fan turnout since early in the season…USC linebacker Curtis Rice visited the team during the half…the spirit was positive as the Jackets came off the field at the end of the first half…the co-captains, voted on by the juniors, were Brooke Jackson, Trey Crumlin, Phil Hagan, and Jay Lawter…”We write” was written on both locker room chalk boards at Greer…several players had written “W W” (for “we write”) on their hands and “G” for Gideon…the team gave Coach Farmer a great round of applause before he began his devotional…there was a widespread hope, by players and coaches during the season, that Brooke Jackson would get the chance to kick a game-winning field goal.

Epilogue. It’s over. What started in the weight room in January has ended… The chalk board in the coaches’ office has been wiped clean of a forest of Xs and Os… The bulletin board is bare, devoid of clippings about Union’s next opponent… Players will no longer be wearing their game jerseys on Fridays…For the first time since August, coaches will have Saturdays and Sundays free, though that’s the last thing they want this time of year…the Jackets came together as a t-e-a-m late in the season…Cam Willis, facing shoulder surgery today, came into Greer II game as the kicker and then as an emergency quarterback...Clothing and equipment go back into storage, awaiting the call for spring practice, a mere six months away… Coach Hawkins penciled in his tentative defensive roster for next season: “We should be alright on defense but not much depth.”…the offense will be looking for some receivers and kickers… Players still gather in the cafeteria for breakfast knowing it’s over for this year... No more pep rallies or one-man video pep rallies by Coach B. J. Moore during morning announcements… Union fans rediscovered the Jackets in time for the second Greer game…No more game films for 4th Block Weight Lifting classes. Now it’s about getting ready to max out… Gradually, the 80+ guys and one girl who formed the 2006 Yellow Jacket Football Team will begin to go their own ways - basketball, track, soccer, baseball. But they will always be the 2006 Jackets who fought through a tough season surprising a lot of people but not their coaches, keeping alive Union’s unique playoff tradition of consecutive playoff appearances– eighteen. It will up to the 2007 team to make it nineteen.

The journey begins. January, 2007

 

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