Inside the Swarm - Gaffney

 

By: Paul Davis

Pre-game devotional. “You need a sense of urgency,” said Coach David Lipsey. “Go hard from the git go. No one leaves the campus. Nobody. Check your equipment. No playing around Get your mind focused on what you want to do. Get a sense of urgency. You have four hours to kick-off.”

At that point, former Jonesville player Robbie Quin addressed the team telling them that when he was playing, he couldn’t wait to see the highlight film. “I wanted to make the highlight film. Once, when we were playing Blacksburg, I was lined up as a wide receiver and was supposed to run a post pattern. I took off, found I was wide open, and ran for a touchdown.

“Another time, I was on the punt team. I wanted to make the highlight film by making a big hit. But instead, as I was running down field, I tripped and fell on my face. I didn’t want that to be on the highlight film.

“God has a highlight film on each of us. Everything we do, good or bad, is on it. He misses nothing. Good or evil. Dropped passes or pancake blocks. You and I fumble the ball in life and God knows it.

“You all know that the way you prepare is the way you play. Tom Landry, the great Dallas Cowboy coach, said this: ‘The will to prepare is more important than the will to win.’ Everyone wants to win but not everyone really wants to prepare to win. That is true in football and it’s true in life.

“God’s playbook is the Bible. Jesus is the savior of the world and he can be your savior. Good deeds are important but God changes your life. Good luck tonight.”

“I hope you have noticed that our speakers always remember the games from long ago,” began Lipsey. “They remember. I want you to grasp the importance of this time. Listen to the messages. We consider this time the most important time during the week. It’s about life. We want it to mean something to you.

“We had really good effort by the JVs Thursday and they found some things to work on. Great effort and they are getting better. I want to see if we are better this week than we were against Spartanburg. I’ll be able to tell early. Seniors, lead this program. Leave it better than you found it. I want to seniors to show the younger players how to do it right. How to be a good student-player.

“Set your standards high. I love to get emails from your teachers about how you are cooperating in class, working hard. Seniors, this is the last time you will ever play Gaffney. Seven weeks to go. Don’t let it get away from you. Have a good time. Make the Reservation The Hive.

In the Gym. After reviewing Special Teams assignments, Coach Caleb Clark told the players that they had to play wide open. “They have athletes who can make a play. We have athletes who can make a play if we play our assignments. We have spent a lot of time on Special Teams this week. Play your assignment.”

Coach Dave Maness challenged the Jackets to use this opportunity to step up. “We moved the ball well. We can play if you will go hard for 48minutes. If you do, we will be fine. We have not gone hard for 48 minutes yet. Make that commitment now.”

“You have to play hard tonight,” added defensive coordinator Chip Bailey. “We need your best effort. They have good skill players and you have to play your assignment. Know where Number 3 is all the time.  If you play hard, we can correct the mistakes. Eleven to the ball. Make Laurens fear you when they watch the film.

Before the game. “They will want the football,” explained Coach Lipsey before the coin toss. “Start fast. Play hard. All you have all night long. Let’s see who wants to play this game. Focus on the next play. Get after their tail. Keep up your enthusiasm between the white lines. Don’t worry about mistakes.” Fullback Tate Knox challenged the team to think about how they will be remembered. “All Out on three. One, two, three, All Out.”

First half. Punter Nick Monroe got off a 60-yard punt early in the quarter…Denzel Jackson had a big tackle for loss making it 3rd and 15…Robert Littlejohn broke up a Gaffney pass play which almost became an interception….sideline support was very active…Monroe had another great punt going 50 yards…Demarcus Stewart had a big tackle late in the 1st quarter…Neil Washington had a big fumble recovery early in the 2nd quarter…defensive lineman Desmond Floyd had a big tackle for loss on the 43-yard line with five seconds left in the half.

At the half.  “We went for it on 4th down with six inches and got a bad spot,” said Lipsey. “We’ll go for it every time. You have got to compete. They are coming hard on the edges.” Coach Bailey told his defensive players that “…you have to communicate. You have to know the coverage. We have had them bottled up but you have to wrap up.” Coach Maness told the offense that there had been some constructive plays. “Stay after them,” he continued. “Have some fire. You have raised your level of play since Spartanburg.”

2nd half. Things got ugly at one point in the 3rd quarter with one Jacket being responsible for two consecutive 15-yard penalties on one play…during the 4th quarter, wide receiver Alex Tucker made a leaping, falling highlight-kind of catch on tight coverage for about a 35-yard gain.

Back home. Coach Lipsey elected to wait until arriving back at the school before addressing the team. “Great, great effort,” he said. “There is nothing, nothing, good about loosing but there is nothing we can do about it now. We can run the table from here out but it starts Monday. Laurens has good athletes. They are 4A and it won’t be easy. Just remember who you have played: the top ranked 3A team in the state, and two Big Sixteen teams. You played a much better game than you did against Spartanburg. You have got to keep your emotions under control on the field and don’t show out on the sidelines. Keep it in check. Channel it into positives on the field. You are getting there. I am very proud of your effort. Look, no champion was ever crowned who had an easy road and Laurens won’t be easy.”

Quick Hitters. Prior to the devotional, Coach Lipsey was in the process of reminding the team that they had a good week preparing when he was interrupted by the sound of metal crashing to the floor, a big thump, and a lot of laughter from the team. Seems as though one of the coaches had unknowingly picked a defective folding chair to sit in which “let him down”…Michael Mebane ran hard all night ripping off some good gains, particularly in the fourth quarter…for the first time in recent memory, the Jackets had no police escort. At the Reservation, there was no sideline security and five local police officers were at the back of the stands. No officers were seen at the base of the stands to prevent unauthorized access to the players, which did happen...though the Jackets had a rough Friday night, coaches were impressed with their effort: “They played hard, with lots of intensity,” said more than one…if you look closely at the front of some Jacket helmets you will see some with stars. That’s Lipsey’s reward for receiving positive comments from an athlete’s teacher about his classroom conduct and effort…Dierris Beacham received kudos for his work on the kick-off return team as did Calvin Williams… linebacker Wes Jeter attracted attention for his improved play…offensive coaches were pleased with the major reduction in turnovers, from two or three a game to just one and that was late in the fourth quarter…Coach Caleb Clark was pleased with the improvement on the part of all special teams… “On most of our offensive plays,” said one coach, “nine or ten players execute their assignment perfectly. If the other one or two get theirs right, we’re going to be hard to beat.”

The journey continues. Home Laurens. Be there.

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