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St. Dominic Grade School squared off against Washington County Middle School in the third annual Middle School Football Championship game a couple of weeks ago.
On one side you had the St. Dominic Knights. A school, which had won the first and second championship games and had big winning seasons in each of those years.
On the other side you had the Washington County Generals, a team that hadn’t had a win in five years.
Well folks, this year was different for both schools. It proved to be “The Year of the Generals” while St. Dominic suffered many disappointing defeats - the last being the championship game against the Generals.
But let me tell you this. Both sides have come away with lessons learned that could last a lifetime and probably don’t even know it. These lessons prove the value of sports for all young people. I want to tell you why.
Let’s start with the Generals.
Those Generals, under the careful coaching of Tim Lawson and Felix Keene, decided that they didn’t care what the past record had been. It was a new season and evidently their mommas didn’t raise no quitters.
They worked as a team. They sweated together. They ran plays together. They tackled, punted, passed footballs, kicked field goals over and over again until they “got it” just right.
Those boys probably got to the point where they didn’t care if they saw another football again for the rest of the year. But one driving force kept them going. It was the desire and discipline to be the best that they could be. It was the determination to turn around a team and bring home the trophy for their school.
In this grueling process, leadership and skills emerged from the players that wanted it bad enough.
Yes sir, running back /corner back Tyler Loving, tight end/defensive end Nick Burch, nose guard Bradlee Lawson, running back/corner back Christopher Jewell, linebacker/running back Alex Marshall, and center/defensive tackle Miquail Railey rose to the challenge.
These young athletes led the team forward in a season where they romped and stomped all over the district, running wild over the competition. Only twice did they lose. Both of those times were to teams coming from schools much bigger than their own. One was Spencer County, which has one middle school football team for the whole county, unlike Washington County, which has three.
All the parents of this team should be rightfully proud at what these young men accomplished.
You know what I think these young athletes learned that will help them out in life?
The first thing is that there is no individual award that you can receive equaling the incredible pride and natural high coming from winning as a team. We need each other to be happy. It’s just the way God made us.
The second is it’s not where you came from that matters. It’s where you’re heading. The past is past. No matter how bad it might have been you can have a brighter tomorrow. But you have to be willing to do what it takes, no matter how hard that may be.
You might ask what could St. Dominic learn from their losing season. The answer is plenty.
St. Dominic had equally talented coaches. John Cecconi, Brandon Riley, John Isaacs, and John Yates gave endless hours to this program.
Just as the Generals, the Knights practiced, practiced, and practiced, over and over again. Leaders rose to the top.
Quarterback Jacob Shuler, running back/defensive end Jack Hagen, linebacker/running back Matthew Bartley, and tight end/defensive end John Riney proved their worth in a tough season. Up-and-coming sixth graders corner back/quarterback Wade Moore and running back Anthony Osbourne proved they would be forces to be reckoned with in the future.
In the end it just wasn’t enough for this year.
So, what did they learn in a series of disappointing games with only two wins?
More than they know. I watched them
They would get knocked down and chewed up. But they would rise up again.
They would fight against hopeless odds, but they kept trying.
They would be at the last few seconds of a game with no chance of winning, but they continued to slug it out to the bitter end.
They kept true faith and allegiance to their teammates through the season. They won as a team and they lost as a team.
All these parents should be equally proud.
Boys, life is tough.
But you can never lose if you just can’t quit.
I can’t wait to watch you play for Washington County High.