There were milestones this football season, as far as on-thefield success.
Marshall Academy made its 13th straight playoff appearance.
Potts Camp, which started football just 10 years ago, was in the post-season for the first time ever.
But what the school in the northern part of the county had to withstand this season truly defines heart and soul.
The Lions barely had enough players to field a team, and they had only one coach, Chris Daniels, who completed his seventh season in Lion country.
Byers went up against other teams throughout the season with double or more the roster size, plus a head coach and two, three or four assistants.
And if that wasn’t tough enough, both a teacher and a student at Byers died during the season.
I talked with Coach Daniels a few days after the player’s death in an ATV accident. Always upbeat and energetic no matter the circumstances, his voice was quiet and quivering on the other end. I’d never heard him that way. I could feel his hurt on the other end of the phone.
The Lions forfeited one game after the player’s death, yet courageously returned to the field for their last game of the season.
There were some super team and individual performances on the field this season among all the teams in Marshall County. But I say let’s give most valuable player for the year awards to all of the H.W. Byers Lions and their head coach.
High school sports is about much more than wins or losses. And the Lions taught all us all valuable lessons in grit and determination and so much more.
Being on the sideline and talking with all the coaches in the county on a weekly basis, as usual, left me with many memories this season. But no one inspired me like the Lions.
At the start of the season, I was wearing shorts and short sleeves. At the end of the season I had on three shirts, the thickest sweatshirt I could find at my house, gloves and a toboggan.
And I also worked a game, on the sideline, in mud and a constant downpour.
It’s great working with coaches who are easy to work with. I have to bug them on Saturdays and sometimes Sunday getting stats and any coach’s comments and most valuable players for the week.
And then lots of times I’m back in touch on Mondays as they help me ID photos.
But the most rewarding part of covering high school sports is being around the high school kids themselves.
The South Reporter, with the help of its advertisers, covers high school sports for the young people. They work hard, and they deserve the coverage.
The same holds true for the newspaper’s education pages. The students are working hard in the classroom, and they deserve the recognition. We thank our schools for sending us their good news.
I go to the games, and the players recognize me but might not recall my name.
“Hey, newspaper man, take my picture,” is common.
Or, “Hey, put my name in the paper.”
It is part of what makes this job so much fun and rewarding.