Thursday, September 13, 2007
They’re 1-1, but these early season thoughts are not about wins and losses.
I can’t get my mind off the situation with the football field at Sam Coopwood Park – two home games moved to enemy territory because of hometown vandalism. The Holly Springs High School players deserved better to open the season.
I saw these kids working during the summer. I saw them in the plus-100 temperatures of preseason practice in August.
Coach Clifford Brown summed it up best after being forced to go to Lafayette in week one and losing 50-7.
“Our morale was down,” he said. “Our kids were pumped up to play at home. The kids were shellshocked and it snowballed.”
The word about the ruts in the field caused by vandals in vehicles also snowballed.
That Friday night, Aug. 31, on the state-wide high school scoreboard show, someone called in the week one score of Water Valley’s game with Coffeeville.
At the end of his report, the radio guys asked, “Who do y’all play next week?”
“Holly Springs,” the caller replied. “We just don’t know where it will be played.”
Then there was a remark or two about the field conditions at Holly Springs.
I had a gut feeling at that time – The South Reporter sports staff would be going to Water Valley in week two instead of staying home.
Coach Brown called me on Tuesday of last week, before press-time, and said another scheduled home game had been moved, this one to Water Valley.
The Hawks, filled with determination, rebounded from week one and claimed a big 21-14 road win this past Friday night.
This field situation isn’t about blaming anyone – except the crazies who did the damage.
Fortunately, the Holly Springs Police Department made four arrests. All are charged with felony malicious mischief. And they are innocent until proven guilty.
I walked the field myself that Friday of the first cancellation. I admit, it’s not good, but I’ve seen football played in worse conditions.
More than anything, it made me mad.
Vandalism, in general, upsets me, but this, because it affected so many hard-working young men and their coaches made me madder.
Coach Clifford Brown is a really good friend. He’s a class act. He nor his team deserved this.
But good will prevail.
There’s no doubt in my mind these young men are growing stronger and closer because of this early season adversity. You can expect to see traits like grit, unity, teamwork and heart.
A good thing also happened behind the scenes of this situation, which I think could be a community boost for days to come.
Marshall Academy, which was playing on the road Friday, Aug. 31, offered its facilities for use by Holly Springs High School.
That got shot down, I understand, but not by anyone local.
We, all of us, are Holly Springs. And sometimes it takes young people and athletics to teach us that lesson.
I can only hope that Holly High’s next scheduled home game, versus Independence on September 28, will, in fact, be played on the grass at Sam Coopwood Park.
If so, the Hawks will have three home games this season instead of five – the others being Senatobia on October 5 and Byhalia on October 26. And then there’s the state playoffs, too, which the Hawks have made the past two seasons.
Wouldn’t that be nice after this early season frustration with the football field – a playoff game in November under the lights at Sam Coopwood Park?
More than ever before, the football Hawks need this community’s support. It’s time to rally around the dedicated young men on this team.
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