Inside the Swarm – Riverside

 By: Paul Davis

            “First,” began Coach Lipsey, “I want to tell you that I think that you are a great group of guys. You work hard. Come out every day. Put on your pads and go to work. You practice all week to play tonight. This is week seven. It’s time to play.”

          Team Chaplain Robert Emory told the team that he grew up on the Greer/Riverside area and told the team that those teams didn’t have a lot of respect for Union . At that point he introduced the guest speaker, a man who really needed no introduction, former Jacket coach and now elementary school principal, Floyd Lyles.

            “This is a great time for me,” he began. “The pre-game devotion means a great deal to me. I always enjoyed football and I liked the saying: ‘You run in the summer so you can play in the cold.’ You know, every game you play is a chapter you write in your book of football memories. What will you write tonight?

            “Football has given me a great opportunity. I have four Championship rings on my hand. There is nothing like being a part of a championship team. And I am part of the greatest championship team ever assembled – Christ’s team.

            “Guys, if being cool would win the game, we’d be State Champions. But it doesn’t. None of you have a championship ring.

            “I’m part of God’s team, the greatest team ever assembled. The most important decision I ever made was when I accepted Christ as my Savior. As a coach, as a player, as a man I never thought that I could fall in love with a man. It was Jesus. Because of that my life totally changed for the better.

            “God has a plan for you. You need to be asking what is that plan for me? Some of you are about ‘cool’ and “talk” but people want to see results. You need to have a vision of what you want to do and have a plan to get there.

            “Everyone needs to be inside the circle we call the ‘team.’ When everyone is inside that circle you beat with one heart. As one unit. You need to know your role on the team. But you need to remember there’s no greater team than God’s.”

            At that point he called Billy Gregory to the front and draped one of his State Championship medals around his neck. “When you win the State Championship, you line up, they call your name and number and then they hang the medal around your neck. It’s the greatest feeling in football.

            “When you get off the bus, you need to be of one mind. Riverside can’t play with you if you have the same mindset. I told my son that there are four priorities in life: First, God; second, family; third, his education; and fourth, football if that what he wants.

            “I have good days and bad days but I KNOW where I’m going and that keeps me going day by day.”

The offense.  After reviewing some key offensive plays, offensive coordinator Coach Dave Mannes told the team that “…I think we are better,” he continued. “They have won all their games and they will fight but they haven’t played the schedule we have played. That’s why we play those teams. Put a helmet on the guy in front of you.

            “Last week we could have put up 90 points but we wanted to get everyone in the game. Coach Lou Holtz said something the other day that caught my attention. He said, ‘Are you happy’? He went on to say that having a short memory will help you feel happy.

Well, are you happy? Have you forgotten Clinton ? Are you “happy”? If you are happy about what you’ve done so far, you aren’t going much further. Let’s be “happy” when we get on the bus at the end of the game.”

            “They have not been hit in the mouth, “said Coach Rocky Cooper. “We have the potential to be the best team I ever played on or coached, and that includes two State Champion teams. Tonight, you decide how good you’re going to be. We’ll do our part to make it happen. Don’t talk junk. Let your pads do all the talking.”

In the gym. “How is this team going to be remembered,” began Coach Lipsey. “Tonight is a big game. Week seven. Teams that are going to compete will go forward from here the rest will drop by the wayside.  How do you get respect? Your EARN it. Earn it between the lines. When you get off the bus, take control of their ‘reservation.’”

Before kickoff. “You are two touchdown underdogs,” began Lipsey. “You have to earn the respect of people. Make it physical. Bloody their nose on offense, defense, and special teams. Make a statement. 5-1 verses 3-3. Take a step to Columbia . Tonight is all you have.”

At the half.  With the Jackets flat in the first half, the coaches tore into them during halftime. “You’ve played slow,” shouted Lipsey. “If we can’t move the ball against them, we won’t move the ball the rest of the year. What have you got? Is this gonna be Riverside ’s show? This is embarrassing the way we played. No get up and go. We’ve taken their whippin’. The second half will determine what you have here (pointing to his stomach). If it will get you to play football, get mad at me. I don’t care. Seniors, is this what you want them to see? Stop them. Seniors, you are running out of time. Three weeks left. You need to turn the corner, NOW. Right NOW. Seniors, you need to take charge of the team, this game, and this season.”

After. “I challenged you at the half, the seniors stepped up, and you came out and played football the way we knew you could,” began Lipsey. “I don’t know what happened the first half. You have to play TWO halves. We can NOT wait to the second half to play football. Seniors, next week is YOUR homecoming against an undefeated team. Make it a game to remember. Keep football on your mind this weekend. Good effort on the second half. You will play as much football as you want to play. It is in your hands. You are fighting for your football lives.”

Quick Hitters.  The Jackets had their share of players leaving the field due to injuries: T.T Burros (knee), Jamison Jones (shoulder), Marcus Whitener and Deion Thompson (cramps) and Lamont Edney (turf toe)…led by the seniors, the Jackets came out firing in the second half…co-captain Calvin Rice achieved one of this goals when he sacked the quarterback for a 10-yard loss…Kelvin Booker also sacked the quarterback for a seven-yard loss…Colby Hawkins and Marcus Lott picked off Riverside passes in the first half…Lott also had a great offensive game with a TD reception…As the bus arrived at the high school, Coach Jay Brannon perhaps spoke for all the coaches when he addressed the defense before getting off the bus: “Guys, I love every one of you,” he began. “The second half was great defense. You seniors are only guaranteed three more games and I do get angry when I see you playing below your potential. I will coach a lot more games but, guys, how many more games will you play…?”…Dwight Brannon was pressed into service at QB in the second half and, as Coach Dave Maness put it, “Put his finger in the dike for us when we needed it.”… Marcus Whitener had his normal great game… freshman Desmond Floyd played the entire second half at defensive end and is, according to Coach Jay Brannon, “One to watch.”… junior defensive lineman Tevin Thompson has had a great week of practice “and is getting better every day.” …Bo Whitney has his pads back on and has started taking some non-contact snaps at practice.

The journey continues. 7:30. Homecoming. Be there.

 

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