Inside the Swarm – Greenville

By Paul Davis            

Coach Lipsey reminded the team that last week they had no turnovers. “We gave them nothing,” he continued, “and we need to do the same tonight. Remember, little things matter. Make sure you’re ready. Keep out of the parking lot, your car and do not mix with the other students. Make sure you are ready.

            At that point, I was introduced by team chaplain Robert Emory to bring the devotional.

            “Gideon’s battle with the Midianites as told in Judges is the theme tonight.

            “In Judges 6:1-6, Israel was captive, again, and asks why this has happened. You have been captive to your mistakes this season and you may have asked why. God’s prophet explains the reason for the captivity and the people cry out for help.

            “In the 11th and 12th verses, God’s angel picks Gideon – who was threshing wheat at the time – to lead Israel . A farmer, not a warrior. God often picks the guy with character in the back of the crowd to lead. It isn’t always the marquee player who makes the big play in a game. God saw potential in Gideon that Gideon didn’t see. Your coaches see potential in you that you might not see.

            “In verse 14 God tells Gideon to go forth in the strength HE has. You have to play your best, not someone else’s. Gideon questions his ability and asks for a sign. God at first says wait and then gives him a sign. The angel tells Gideon to tear down all the idols belonging to Baal. This was very dangerous as the king put them there and the king was his dad. And in those days, kings killed family members as easily as strangers. What idols do we have between us and God? Is there anything you are placing between yourself and the team?

            “God takes care of Gideon and then in the 7th chapter Gideon gathers 32,000 troops to fight the 135,000 Midianites, 4 to 1 odds. What are the odds of our winning?       “God wanted to show them His power, so he tells Gideon to send home those who tremble with fright and 22,000 head home to mommy. God only wanted sold out, committed warriors.

            “God tells Gideon in verses 5-7 that he still has too many and has them go to the brook to drink. Those who lap the water are sent home. So, 9,700 go home. What was he getting at? Those lapping the water only thought of themselves. When they looked in the water, all they saw was their own image. Now it would be 300 against 135,000. An impossible task UNLESS God was with them. Tonight, it will be Special Teams, the Offense,  the Defense, the Sidelines - TEAMS.

            “Here, in verses 15-17 are the key verses. Gideon calls the Israelite soldiers together, tells them to bring a torch, trumpet, and an earthen vessel. No weapons. Then, he tells them, ‘Watch me. Follow my lead.’ Can you seniors tell the team, ‘Watch me. Follow my lead?” Can you lead by example? Gideon and his band of 300 warriors perfectly execute the game plan and route the 135,000. The Midianites lost 135,000 due to their fighting among themselves. Guys, Union CAN beat Greenville . But we CAN NOT beat Greenville AND Union ..

            “Okay, seniors, come to the front of the room. Now, you ARE the leadership. Can you say to your teammates, ‘Watch us. Follow our lead?’” At that point, the seniors repeated that phrase three times.

            I then asked the team to stand. “Can you say to these seniors, ‘We will follow?’”

            With the music of the Space Odyssey, 2001 playing, the seniors shouted three times, ‘Watch us. Follow our lead.’ This was followed by the team responding, ‘We will follow.’”

            At that point they took their seats. “Guys, I don’t know if you meant it. But, I will say this. After the game, your coaches will know it. The guy on your right and left will know it. The fans will know it. And Greenville for sure will know it.”

In the gym. “When we get there,” began coach Lipsey, “we will have our offense and defense meetings. I like it when you get off the bus ready to play. Play with class. This game will be a game you will always remember. The chance to play for the Upper State Championships. Create turnovers. Tony Curtis of Greenville said, “We will not loose.” We are gonna show up to play. They had better be ready.”

The defense: Because of traffic delays, the team arrived latter than planned so coach Jay Brannon talked to the defense before they got off the bus. “We have to have 48 minutes of play,” said Brannon. “The game will be won in the fourth quarter. Play like every play is the most important play in the game because it just might be. Know your angles if they sprint out. Make the play on the screen. You are ready. Not many teams get this chance. Win and it gets better every week. Play hard. Four quarters.”

Before kickoff.  Packed into a hot locker room, the Jackets listened as Lipsey challenged them to compete on every play. “Go get it. Don’t wait. Tackle. Wrap up. Protect the football. You are on a journey to the State Championship. Two hours from now, someone will be playing for the Upper State Championship. Let’s have no regrets. Seniors, this is not the end. Go get it.”

The half. “Offense, you have got to finish your drives,” began Lipsey. “We need six. Be awake on special teams and keep tackling. Wear them out. They will probably run some weeps and sprints. Twenty-four more minutes. Two quarters. Be a great second half team. Win it.”

It’s over. “We’re going to the Upper State Championships,” began Lipsey. “That’s a great credit to you and your hard work. One step away. We need a good week. Prepare to play. No mess ups this weekend or in school. It’s us and Chester .”

Quick hitters. Coach Lipsey received his first sideline dunking with 13 seconds left in the game…during the second half, linebacker T. T. Burros smelled a screen coming and busted the play with a key tackle…Calvin Rice, who is becoming a real “sack artist,” had two big sacks in the second half for about 14 yards in total losses...Sam Hammond had a big sack which forced Greenville into fourth down deep in their territory… Kierre Smith had another one of his “patented” falling down backwards receptions under double coverage…Kelvin Booker also had a big sack leaving Greenville with a third and twenty…Marcus Lott made a key interception on their 21 late in the game… Jacket defensive backs had their hands on the ball all night long …co-captains again were Sam Hammond, Marcus Whitener, Dwight Brannon, and Marcus Lott…the cheerleaders had left Yellow Jacket favors for the coaches: “Somebody luvs ya”…on the sidewalk by the team buses: “Jackets Taking Over”…”All the way to state”… Danny Grady hammered a 40-yard punt with 1:33 left in the game to pin Greenville deep on their three yard line…this was the third straight game with no offensive penalties… plus the Jackets were only flagged for 30 yards, a real improvement over earlier games.

The journey continues. Chester . 8 PM. For a shot at all the marbles. Be there.


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