Inside the Swarm – Chester

 

By: Paul Davis

            After bragging on the team for their conduct at the movie theater earlier in the afternoon, coach Lipsey cautioned the team to “…keep your mind on what we have to do. Good job this week. They’ll be a big crowd tonight. Let’s get it right.”

            Team Chaplain Robert Emory began the devotion by reminding the team about the scripture account of where Jesus fed the 5,000. “Jesus was tired and wanted some rest but the people followed Him wherever he went,” said Emory. “The disciples wondered how they were going to feed so many people. The money they had only added up to a year’s wages to feed 5,000 people. So the disciple Andrew found a young lad that had just two fish and five loves of bread, obviously not enough to feed the crowd. But Jesus gave thanks for the meal and asked the disciples to distribute the food to the crowd. Everyone had plenty to eat and there was 12 bushels of food left over.

            “Now think about this. Jesus could have provided food from the sky as God did for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. But He chose to provide for others through a young man, using just what he had. The disciples responded. The lad gave all he had. That was all that Jesus asked of him.

            “This is kinda like football. This principle applies to you as a team. Why have you gathered here tonight? Think for a few moments about what you have to be thankful for. Some of you tell us what you are thankful for tonight. (“My family…our coaches… my teammates…being able to play football.”)

            Coach Lipsey added his own thoughts: “I am so grateful for having the chance to know you all, coach Massey, your families, Pastor Emory, the coaches, and all the friendships which have come from that.”

            Coach Dave Maness added that he likewise was thankful for having the chance to work with the players and coaches.

            Athletic Director Mike Massey told the team that this year, because of consolidation issues, had been difficult. “But, at the same time it has been a blessing. I have so many friendships through football. It has been a blessing to work with coach Lipsey, coach Cudd, coach Robinson, and coach Clark. You have grown so much this season. Our reward as coaches comes from what you turn into, not necessarily as a football player, but as a person. I have been blessed by meeting those of you who joined us from Lockhart and Jonesville. You have made us better.

            “Coach Tony Dungy said that thing do go wrong but we can control our attitude and how we respond to it. He also said, ‘Success is common and not to be enjoyed by the common man. That means that too many people want success but won’t do the extra things needed to get it. I am thankful for how you handled the consolidation of the three schools and turned it into a success.

            “During this season,” continued Emory, “many of you have stepped up. At some point many of you stepped up and said, ‘I’ll give all I have to this team.’ We have been blessed. You have been successful. I love being around this team and seeing how far you have come since the start of the season. Life is like football in that you and I have to take what God has given us and do something special with it.

            “Thanksgiving is about giving. I have to say that as I get older, I become more thankful. Guys, God can use a person with a heart of gratitude. In 1975, I was a junior in high school and played some football. We got into the second round of the playoffs. I knew God wanted me to go into the ministry and I had a difficult decision to make: stay another year or graduate early to go to college. So I went to college and the next year my school went to the State Championships. I missed it. It has been over twenty years since I had a chance to go to a State Championship and I hope this year is my chance.”

With the offense. “You’ve come a long way since week seven,” began coach Maness. “You are at a point that doesn’t come to very many teams. Most teams never have the chance you have. I’m blessed. I’ve been at this point six times and have two State Championship medals. Just how much would you pay to go to the State Championship? You know, it won’t cost you a dime. Just 100 percent effort. If you add up all the actual clock time of plays, it comes to around ten minutes. Ten minutes. A chance to be a Champion. Something you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Tonight when you leave the field, all you have to be able to do it to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I did all I could do.’ Trust your teammates to do the same.”

            Coach Rocky Cooper told the offense that he knew how excited they were. “I’ve been where you are. You should be thankful for each other. Make the most of your contribution. You are ready. I love each of you.”

            Coach Dennis Clark told them to get after Chester . “I’ve never had a trip to the ‘ship, (Championships) a statement that excited the Jackets.

In the gym. “Compete every play,” began Lipsey, “compete. Compete. I know how much you have put into this year. Fight. You’ll be in a charged atmosphere. After the kickoff it’s just football. Only four teams in AAA play tonight”

Before kickoff. “One thing,” began Lipsey, “take a look at our fans. This is your chance. The Jackets have been here before. Make it physical. Smack them in the nose. Four quarters of football. Tonight, you can punch your ticket to the ‘ship. Cherish this moment. Go get it.” And with that, the Jackets broke it down, “One, two, three, ‘ship.”

At the half. Coach Bryan Robinson told the team that there were people open for passes and that they had had some drops. “We are not playing up to our capabilities. They took it to us. The last six weeks we have had a good offense. You have 24 more minutes. What are you going to do with it? Execute. You have gone too far to stop here. They ruled the line of scrimmage. You have got to make plays. Seniors, lead.” The team broke for the field after shouting, “One, two, three, go get it.”

The last meeting. There was a single light illuminating the gym as the team gathered to listen to coach Lipsey wrap up the season. “I am proud of you,” he began, “and the job you have done. I know it hurts. Good job. You’ll remember these guys and what you did together this year. You came. You worked hard. And you became something bigger than you as individuals. Please know that I and every coach here are committed to helping you in any way we can, getting to the next level or whatever it is. Please come see us.”

            Coach Davie Maness explained to the team that they made a positive impact on Union County that went far beyond football, “…and I am really proud to have been associated with you.”

            Coach Dennis Clark told the players that he appreciated every one of them and “…I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and to have been a part of what you did. I spent more time with you than I did my family. Seniors, you have a lot of life ahead and you underclassmen, work hard, work like a champ every day.”

Quick hitters. Friday the team came in at 10 AM for a walk-though, ate hamburgers and then went to the movie theater…the game had eight officials instead of the normal five and did a good job overall…defensive end Kelvin Booker had a great game sacking their quarterback twice for big losses…punter Danny Grady had some good punts, one going for at least 45 yards…the team had a lot of positive emotion and spirit as they headed to the field to start the second half…Marcus Lott made a big interception at 10:08 in the third quarter and essentially shut down their go-to receiver… Union fans really showed up with hundreds arriving early and having to wait to get in…our fans filled the visiting stands and overflowed to adjacent areas... Chester is a very good team and possess the most team speed on both sides of the ball that the Jackets saw all year.

The journey resumes. January in the Jacket weight room. Eight months to go.

 

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