Inside the Swarm – Laurens


By: Paul Davis

Pre-game devotional. “You’ve turned the corner on some things,” began Coach David Lipsey. “If you do the little things well, the big things take care of themselves. It’s Friday night. Football. Get ready to play. We are fortunate to have a speaker tonight whom I really admire.”

At that point, former UHS State Champion (1990, 1995) coach, Shell Dula was introduced. “It’s a pleasure to be with you tonight,” he began. “I had eleven great years here and loved every moment. You are part of something very special – Yellow Jacket football. I read an article in the Greenville news a few years ago where readers were asked where they would like to be on a Friday night to watch football. Readers said either Gaffney or Union. Take pride in that. I look forward to seeing you play.”

At that point he drew a line on the board with a rounded “W” touching the line. Dula asked the team what that meant. “It means, put your butt on the line every play. Lay it on the line.”

“What does it take to be successful? You will be part of a good football team if you lay it on the line.

“Success in football comes from everyone understanding their role and accepting it. Each of you has a role and a responsibility. Everyone can’t be the quarterback. When you accept your role and carry it out the best you can, that equals success.

“In 1995, when we won our second State Championship, we went 14-1. Several players went to D-I schools. When the players got their rings, a 5’ 5” player who weighed 135 pounds got a standing ovation from his teammates. Not because he was a star because he wasn’t. But, he understood his role and played the other team’s plays to the best of his ability. He played the role of  Spartanburg’s Steven Davis, who later went to the NFL. He helped us defeat Spartanburg 28-0.

“Everyone has a role. If everyone plays their role to the best of their ability, Union County will be the best they can be. Know your role. Accept it. Do your best. That is what makes the team successful.

“In the Bible, Jesus understood His role. He was to die on the cross for us. He knew His role. John the Baptist knew his role. He wasn’t the Messiah. His role was to announce Jesus’ coming. A 14-year old girl named Mary knew her role. Though confused and scared, she accepted her role as well.

“Know your role. Take pride in doing it whether it is on punt team or kick-off team. We all have a role in life. What you do in life is more important than football. Take the talent God has given you and make the world better for your being in it.

“Hit Laurens in the mouth. Put it on the line. Make the world better. Accept the role you have here on the team and accept the role you have in life and be all you can be.”

Offense. On the chalk board: “1-3 or 0-4?”…”Which one of these will it be?” asked Coach Dave Maness, referring to the board. “There’s not a lot of stuff to go over. You could have paid a lot of money to have someone speak to you tonight and none would have said it better than Coach Dula. You need to understand and commit to your role. Both of us need to build momentum. Put it on the line. Pay attention to your position coaches. We can’t deal with penetration. I believe that we are better. Laurens is in the same place we are – we both need a win.”

Coach Bryan Robinson added that the sideline support was great last week. “We have to have a win. This will give us confidence going into region play. It’s time to live up to Union County football. We can’t go through the motions. You need to establish your legacy of Yellow Jacket football tonight.”

Coach Rocky Cooper said that the paper said would get beat. “No one respects you,” he continued. “Respect is something you have to earn. You have a chance to do something for everyone who ever played Yellow Jacket football. If you put your butt on the line you will win.

Defense.  I hope you listened to Coach Dula,” began Coach Chip Bailey. “Some of you start. Some of you will be first off the bench. Everyone is important. If everyone does their job, that equals success. Tonight, put it on the line. Go all out. Do what you have to do. If each plays their role, we will win. We have had a good week of practice. We are prepared.” And at that point, Bailey went over some surprise formations that Laurens might use.

In the gym. “The weather is going to be good,” began Lipsey. “Play hard. Fast. We weren’t aggressive last home game. Take the battle to them. Offense, you gotta block. Focus on the task at hand. Pick each other up.”

Before the kick-off. “Game time,” guys, began Lipsey. “Go get it. Go get it. Put it on the line. Seniors, three home games left in front of your people. Don’t take any plays off. Get it done. Get it done.” After Lipsey spoke, Tate Knox gathered the Jackets together and challenged them to remember that no one respected them.

At the half. “You gotta suck it up,” said Lipsey. “One half left for a victory or a loss. It is gonna take all of you. Offense, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t have some points. Put it in the end zone.”

Just before the second half kick-off, Lipsey warned the team to watch for a pooch kick or on-side kick. “Get a good return. Get the football. Go get the thing. We need the best second half football that we have had this year.”

It’s over. “I love seeing the smiles on your faces,” began a smiling Lipsey. “You were down and kept playing. Let this be the start of something special. You have earned it. Everyone had a role in this win. Super effort. And the defense got a shutout. (Lots of applause by all the players.) Keep working. You did put your butt on the line tonight.”

At that point, Denzel Johnson spoke to the team. “This is my last game. I’m going back to Oklahoma. I love you guys. I’ll miss you.” (At that point, the team gathered around Johnson and finished the evening with, “One, two, three, family.”

Quick Hitters.  Correction: It was Brandon Shetley who made the 29-yard field goal in the 9th grade game, not Will Holcombe as reported… between ten and fifteen Jackets are “seeing stars,” at least on their helmets. When Coach Lipsey receives positive comments from teachers about a player, he rewards them with a star for the front of their helmet… before the team started their stretching exercises, Tate Knox and Nick Monroe knelt with heads bowed at the 50-yard line…Knox had Romans 12:2 written on his taped wrists… prior to kick-off, Victor Ruth, Kyle Trantham, Jarred O’Shields and Dillon West knelt in prayer, something reminiscent of Jacket players in the 90s…in the student section, 11 bare-chested, painted students spelled out: U-C-H-S-J-A-C-K-E-T-S.

Alex Tucker had one kick-off which went into the end zone…great sideline chatter…a Laurens defensive player tried to put a big hit on Nick Monroe but Monroe lowered his shoulder and delivered the hit, causing the player to wobble off the field…several coaches spoke very highly of Denzel Johnson: “Denzel played very hard and had 4.5 tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. He is a great student-athlete and has a great attitude.”

Desmond Floyd had three sacks…Ricky Rice had an interception, tackle for loss and 3.5 tackles…Jordan Sims had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss…Neil Washington had 8.5 tackles and 2 tackles for loss…Calvin Williams made his first start, played very well, had one interception, a TD called back because of a block in the back, and had a good punt return…punters Nick Monroe and Tate Knox got off several good punts putting Laurens in poor field position.

On the offensive side of the line, coaches were pleased with the running of John Simmons Fallaw (sidelined for three weeks with a shoulder injury) and Michael Mebane…Zack Ledford was praised for his performance when filling in at center: “He knows his role, does whatever needs to be done and does it well when called on,” said one coach….Coach Lipsey and Coach Clark were both very pleased with the performance of all the special teams: “They have come a long way,” both noted.

The journey continues. Broome. Away. Be there.



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