Thursday, September 25, 2014
Good kids, good teams
Going into last week’s junior high football game between Marshall Academy and Holly Springs, both head coaches told me it was about the kids and for the kids.
I like that approach – putting the kids first.
The football game was organized rather rapidly, with both teams looking at an open date on September 18.
The administration from the two schools said “yes” and in a few days time, we had a first-ever athletic matchup between the private school Patriots and the public school Hawks.
In the organizational stage, I was asked by some of the coaches from both sides, “What do you think?”
Without hesitation, I said, “I believe it’s great.”
After being on the sideline last Thursday night at Patriot Field from pre-game to post-game, my opinion has definitely not changed.
In pre-game, I walked around the field, talking to coaches from both Marshall and Holly Springs and some of the fans, too. All the talk was positive – upbeat.
The coaches got together ahead of time, making some game adjustments together – like no punts and kickoffs, which had not been a part of the Hawks’ preparations or their previous game.
Looking into the stands, I saw Holly Springs students sitting and laughing with Marshall students.
Then what I watched on the field was talented athletes, good coaching, good sportsmanship, hard-hitting and just a good game between two good teams with good kids.
Weather was threatening from the start, as lightning could be seen at a distance south of the MA stadium.
But the rain held off until the second half, forcing many of the fans to take cover.
The attendance was not as good as expected, probably due in large part to the quick scheduling of the game and the sudden clouds that filled the sky prior to kickoff.
Late in the game, a Holly Springs player was injured.
Coaches from both teams and medical personnel gathered – seeking, of course, to do what was best for the young man.
Players, cheerleaders and fans of both teams, patiently watched and waited, hoping and praying for the best.
Talking to both head coaches Friday morning, MA coach Keith Owens had called late Thursday night to check on the Hawk. Then Donald Deans of Holly Springs told me the player was doing well and back in school on Friday.
After the game Thursday night, I made it a point to walk onto the field to just listen to some of the comments from the players.
The two teams lined up to shake hands. But even before then, as the horn sounded, I saw Patriots and Hawks shaking hands, patting each other on the shoulder and saying, “Good game. Good game.”
After all the players and coaches and fans had funneled through the hand-shaking line, the teams knelt at midfield.
“Put a hand on each other,” the coaches said.
Patriots and Hawks circled, hands on each other’s shoulder pads. The coaches complimented the two teams on a job well done.
Then, more importantly, in unison, they said the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...”
It was a fitting end to a wonderful night for our city.
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