Send Forth The High Falcon
Assistant Sports Editor
Before I can even begin to talk about The 100 Years of Viking Football, before I can even begin to think about Nations Ford, the practices, the hopes and dreams of young men and eager fans. Before I can do any of that.. I have to say Thanks to all of you.
All of you that reached out to me. Those who reached out to Lisa’s Family… I say Thank you from the bottom of my broke but healing heart.I truly believe August will help cure some of this. The empty seat beside me will sometimes be tough to look at but I am just fine with that…to me it will always be full. It is my Foundation. She is my Foundation.
Last October.. Lisa and I stood in the end zone of the turf field on Dupre Drive. She thought she was there to watch a few minutes of practice. She had no idea what was about to happen, nor did I for the most part. As Spartanburg broke it down as Practice ended the clapping got closer.It began to swell in Volume and moved toward the end zone. Lisa turned and said,”Why are they clapping? Are they clapping for you? Your website?”
“No baby, they are clapping for you.” She began to panic, stood up and began to cry. I grabbed her. I held her. I whispered in her ear, “They know Lisa,They care. I got you..just breathe.” We always said that. It’s more or less her family motto which she taught me.
I held her as Coach Miller spoke for a few minutes, I spoke for a few..and Lisa cried and told them thank you as much as she could get it out.
Then Tommy Washington ran to her, picked her up and looked Lisa Michelle in the eyes and said, “I’M YOUR NUMBER ONE FAN!” then it started…player after player after player. Coaches, students and just about every individual on that field came over and hugged her and spoke to us.
I’ve called it The 100 Hugs.
The following Friday I spoke to the team in the locker room before the Dorman game. While that conversation will remain private, not too many dry eyes were in that room. I was offered to watch the game from the sideline. I felt my place is in the stands.
I am a fan first. (a wanna be writer second)
April 7th,2018. The date that will live in “my infamy.” I lost Lisa Michelle that night, A woman who I had known since I was 9 or 10 years old. People say there is no such thing as love at first site. I can’t answer that, all I know is that August Morning at Houston Elementary on the rear playground..I saw her run past me. I was done. I don’t know what I saw except those eyes.
There are many tales of her and I to come this season…I’ll let them seep out as needed.
I’ll close this part of this ramble with this message to Spartanburg Players, coaches, students, fans, my readers, etc…
Lisa Michelle was every bit of the WARRIOR stickers you wore on your helmets for her. She fought and fought and fought. I’m still hoping that Mr.Stevens allows her to be honored at some point during the season with a Mental Health Awareness theme of sorts. He did ask me if there was anything they could do. Lord knows her family and I would love to see her eyes on that jumbo tron at Gibbs Stadium, all the while bringing awareness to so many issues that are often overlooked. She can be a Foundation to help someone else. I’m just fine with that.
Sometimes..the better team loses..
Sometimes..the better team finds peace.
So from 100 Hugs to 100 Years…
1,090 GAMES. 100 YEARS. 7 STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS.
I know we aren’t the only school to play 100 years of Football but it’s still pretty damn cool to me. To think 100 years ago in 1918, a year that saw the end of the first World War. I think of kid whose father may have worked a double shift in the mill that day, digging his bloody knuckles into a part dirt, part patches of grass here and there field. He sweats under a burning sun. He knows he needs water. What he doesn’t know is that his blood, his sweat laid the foundation for the kid who will do the same tomorrow.
No matter if it is 1918 or 2018…The soul is always thirsty. The days are long and hot. The games are still a battle of effort and discipline. Power. Glory. Strategy. Failure. Victory!!
There’s that word … VICTORY. It’s a word most definitely earned.
So here’s to THE 2018 SPARTANBURG VIKINGS FOOTBALL TEAM…
The players, coaches, cheerleaders, band members, teachers, parents and the students.
I say to all of you.. Support your school..make being the end of an era the foundation for the next group of people who will start a new era.
THE SAGA CONTINUES…
SOMETIMES IT SNOWS IN APRIL
Lisa died soon after a long fought civil war
Just after I’d wiped away her last tear
I guess she’s better off than she was before
A whole lot better off than the fools she left here
I used to cry for Lisa ’cause she was my only friend
Those kind of cars don’t pass you every day
I used to cry for Lisa ’cause I wanted to see her again
But sometimes, sometimes life ain’t always the way
Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending
And all good things, they say, never last
Springtime was always my favorite time of year
A time for lovers holding hands in the rain
Now springtime only reminds me of Lisa’s tears
Always cry for love, never cry for pain
She used to say so strong, oh unafraid to die
Unafraid of the death that left me hypnotized
No, staring at her picture I realized
No one could cry the way my Lisa cried
Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad
Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending
And all good things, they say, never last
I often dream of heaven and I know that Lisa’s there
I know that she has found another friend
Maybe she’s found the answer to all the April snow
Maybe one day I’ll see my Lisa again
Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so badSometimes I wish that life was never ending
But all good things, they say, never last
All good things they say, never last
And love, it isn’t love until it’s past”
Thank u baby… I love you.
There are times in our existence where things, outside stimuli or some may even call it just plain ol’ Life. It may be withstanding. It may be brief, but life lets up just a little. Could it all be just a game of chance? Isn’t chance just a matter of what you do with it?
“Hand Over Fist. Paper Around The Stone. Scissors Cut The Paper & The Rock Must Stand Alone.”
Without even really touching on the playoff loss to Hillcrest besides the fact that The Rams had a kid, he wasn’t very big and I wish I knew his name that seemed play Linebacker/Nose Guard if that’s possible that flat-out played his ass off. I hope somebody bought that young man a steak dinner.
Then there is the fact we didn’t play very well. Game Over. Season Over. You tell some kids and friends bye then you take a step back and absorb your scrambled feelings. I do anyway.. could be just me? You still watch Football. The Gamecocks. The Terriers. The Raiders.. even The Panthers try to fill my Football Void. Tom Brady getting beat couldn’t do it. It does not fill my love for Football like The Spartanburg High School Vikings Football Team. Then it all just ends in its own painstakingly but inevitable way.
This morning I put on my headphones, hit play….
If I could wave my magic wand…
All through this past season I dealt with more highway miles than I care to count. Long miles.Rest areas become sad areas. All the adversity, stress, job changes, and of course Lisa. My Lisa. I can honestly write every one of you in the eye and tell you that the love and hugs and tears she acquired from Coach Miller and staff. The Hugs she got from the team… Those things made her the “WARRIOR” that you wore on your helmets.
The Will to Fight is not easily earned nor held on to for very long periods of time. She Fought. Some Rounds she lost but the fight itself, she won by “technical knockout”. We don’t want a rematch. She would prefer to retire as champion if you follow my train of randomness. Everything leaves Scars. That’s why we all require War Paint in some form or the other.
A Superconductor for Battle. Show Don’t Tell.
There is something that can passed from person to person that is magic. It’s more than faith,hope and love. It’s more organic than spiritual. I’ve learned I’d rather see things in the Available Light than artificial lighting any day.
Presto… (for now)
Now here I sit Saturday morning. The first Saturday in a long time that I’m not about to lose my mind.I have a First shift job at an old stomping ground. A great business where I can do what I do well. Where I belong. A career. No more 3rd shift. It took me almost 3 years to get this job back. I started on the anniversary of my Mothers death. Spiritual? Organic? Magic? ABRACADABRA!!!
So as these “essays” start flowing as we get into the Schedule, School and the Seniors will have to say Goodbye to in a sense… you will more than likely get the full spectrum of my emotions. We are gonna talk about some games from last season and some things that are upcoming.
I feel good. Blue & Gold. It is always my pleasure to thank you all for reading these things and your support and remember this..
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
I am made from the dust of the stars
And the oceans flow in my veins
Here I hide in the heart of the city
Like a stranger coming out of the rain
The evening plane rises up from the runway
Over constellations of light
I look down into a million houses
And wonder what you’re doing tonight
If I could wave my magic wand
I’d make everything all right
I’m not one to believe in magic
But I sometimes have a second sight
I’m not one with a sense of proportion
When my heart still changes overnight
I had a dream of a winter garden
A midnight rendezvous
Silver, blue and frozen silence
What a fool I was for you
I had a dream of the open water
I was swimming away out to sea
So deep I could never touch bottom
What a fool I used to be
If I could wave my magic wand
I’d set everybody free
I’m not one to believe in magic
Though my memory has a second sight
I’m not one to go pointing my finger
When I radiate more heat than light
Don’t ask me
I’m just improvising
My illusion of careless flight
Can’t you see
My temperature’s rising
I radiate more heat than light
Don’t ask me
I’m just sympathizing
My illusions a harmless flight
Can’t you see
My temperature’s rising
I radiate more heat than light
It’s been so hard to write lately.Sometimes all the adversity life serves you up on a silver platter is hard to swallow. It chokes you up both figuratively and literally. My season has been much like my beloved Spartanburg High School Vikings, lots of ups and downs. An emotional roller coaster for lack of a better metaphor.
I wish I could have written a story on every player, every coach, every cheerleader, every teacher and every student who walks those halls. I apologize that time won’t give me time. I have to steal moments just to ask you to listen like thieves.
Spartanburg finds itself headed into the second round of the playoffs against the 9-2 Hillcrest Rams. I feel Spartanburg could very easily be undefeated and I’m sure Hillcrest feels the same. Hillcrest has a good coach in Greg Porter and they have athletes who can make plays and change games at any given moment. You can read more about the matchup here from Greenville Online and here from Goupstate.
If you need more perspective.The last time Spartanburg won a State Championship, Hillcrest won one the same day. We are both equally removed from glory.
As much as I want to talk about Football, it’s pretty simple.. we have to win.That’s the bottom line. Win and move on. There isn’t any variables to be found tucked away behind some explored avenue.You have to win. Here lately, I have been throwing around the phrase or hashtag #NewFoundPower. That’s something that came from a writer I read named Patrick A. Lachman.
“Cleansing yourself of the past
Learn from mistakes and move on
Conquering new ground at last
Unite and become twice as strong”
NEW FOUND POWER
I have had to adopt that mindset as well. The Vikings have done more than I could ever ask for myself and my Lisa Michelle. The Night I spoke to the team before the Dorman Game was overwhelming at times. You know there’s so much I wanted to say. In hindsight I know it’s better for me to put my words down on paper rather than just let my brain do what it wants to do…it tends to ramble.. then it will start to wrestle with anxiety and whatever else goes running through my mental circus. Lisa and I often joke about our Three Ring Big Top Show that no one wants to see.
Lisa stood in the end zone after practice one day and every Viking walked up to her and hugged her. Wether it was pre planned or not, it felt organic.It felt so real and uplifting to me, let alone her. She still is Battling and we have found out about a treatment that may actually improve her quality of life and who knows..it could save her. So trips to Atlanta and possibly Houston may be in our future. I refuse to let my hopes get up, as does she. A realist. A realist is a hard person to be. While there is honor,passion, and all that comes with being real. There is also a certain amount of limited ceiling. You can only get so far on your own, then at some point you either find faith in something or someone. The other route is to tap out, throw in the towel and just give up. While I have many faults I do not quit. It’s not an option. She wants all of you to know that you actually caring and wearing that Mental Awareness Sticker on your Helmets helped her claim a New Found Power.
Sometimes you have to find that thing within yourself. You have to find a source. Something that will fuel your NEW FOUND POWER. In between a couple of hours a sleep a day and working third shift, I promise you I have been searching high and low for that source. I looked everywhere and as usual it was right in front my tired eyes. Lisa says to me,” why have you not been writing?” I paused,”I don’t know what to say with so much I want to say.” She replied, “There’s your answer.” I thought about her simple but accurate evaluation of my excuse. While on the front lines of her own battles she knew how it was wearing my soul thin. I must admit I am tired. I’m down right exhausted at times. Lisa followed up my pause with the words,”Our circus is always open.”
So in closing..Just know that We havent given up. Spartanburg hasn’t given up. I’m not sure that this writing has much of a focal point but there is something I needed to let all of you know. WE ARE STILL HERE. WE ARE AT THE GAMES. I have not let life pass me by nor have Lisa and I let go of The Vikings. There is power all around us. All for the taking by those of us who need it. Those who want it,those who will fight for it.
Spartanburg will fight this Friday Night at Chandler Stadium in Simpsonville. We will be there in your corner not just because you have been in ours.
All because you deserve nothing less than our best effort.
You owe it to yourself to use your New Found Power and prove to those who doubt,those who challenge you..that You are still Blue and Gold.
You are still Tradition and Foundation.
You are still THE SPARTANBURG HIGH SCHOOL VIKINGS.
33,267 reads by 21,304 people from 33 countries around our planet. That’s what you did.
Now here is what I have to do….
The term psychosomatic disorder is mainly used to mean … “a physical disease that is thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors”. Sounds Simple.Sounds Treatable. Well, in reality it isn’t. Then you add in extreme anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,Depression,Crohn’s Disease,Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and many other factors that are far too personal to get into on here(especially at the moment)..I have realized my time with my Beautiful Lisa Michelle is limited. There isn’t much quality of Life left in her. She fights as hard as she can. She has toughed out more Friday Nights with me than she wanted to…but thats who she is..A tough hard-headed, huge hearted girl whom I met on the playground of Houston Elementary 33 years ago. Those Big blue eyes turned me into a man. I even sang “Count Me Out” by New Edition in my 6th grade Talent Show just to try to get her attention.
I didn’t know she was sick with something she could never defeat. All the Depakote and Lithium, Pain Killers, Mood stabilizers, anti-depressants in the world never did much for her. If they helped one thing, the side effects are so blistering cruel at some point you pick your poison.
I will never look at her as if she gave up,as if she stopped fighting. She’s tired and exhausted Emotionally and Physically. She needs me,every spare moment. I need her also. She is my everything, she taught me so much about love and life and even in the state that she is in now..I learn something from her everyday.
Over the last 7 weeks she hasn’t really moved out of bed,a few times here and there. Lance Robinson’s Fried Fish got her out one Friday,lol. That was more than any doctor or medicine could EVER do.
She isn’t a huge football fan. She knows how much it means to me. She adopted my Spartanburg Vikings, My South Carolina Gamecocks and My Oakland Raiders. Any woman who will adopt the Raiders is a good woman, especially to me.
The last five years have been a steady decline for the most part.Some days she has a little more fight than others, some days she has zero fight. I don’t fault her for that.Our love has been Unconditional. We remind each other all the time of that word, Unconditional.
I’ve seen 354 SPARTANBURG GAMES IN A ROW…and probably a modest estimate of about 50 games prior to 1991..so I think I am right around 400 Viking Football Games. This week, When I see Dorman Vs Spartanburg it will be my 355th Viking game in a row…The harsh reality is my streak will more than likely end this Friday. The way things are falling out-of-place or maybe in place depending on which looking-glass you prefer..I just can’t keep up with a love of a game and the love of my life. It’s hard for me to sit my ass in the stands when my heart is lying in dark misery in a bed in our small apartment.
The thing about the psychosomatic pain is that it hurts her to talk. A ten min conversation causes extreme pain. A sing along with her favorite song, taking a bath, eating a decent meal can put her in so much pain..she cries. Until you have watched the love of your life cry while eating soup..you haven’t seen things like I have.
Even though Lisa is a fighter, I’m not sure that I am. She keeps pushing me to go on Friday Nights. She wants me to live. I often find myself asking myself,”Am I truly living if I’m sitting with an empty seat beside me?”
So this is not good bye..it is a Distant Early Warning..
“The world weighs on my shoulders
But what am I to do?
You sometimes drive me crazy
But I worry about you
I know it makes no difference
To what you’re going through
But I see the tip of the iceberg
And I worry about you”
So this isn’t a good-bye to anyone,especially my Lisa Michelle.Especially To THE SPARTANBURG HIGH SCHOOL VIKINGS..it is more of a thank you..
David Wilson, you sir are someone I will gladly call my best friend.What you have done for me at Times is everything that is right in the world.
Coach Chris Miller,Nate Harris,Jeff Woodall,Coach Love,Jeff Mahaffey,Coach Thomas,Scott Farmer and anyone else on the staff I might Have forgotten..I thank all of you for all your time and help, and most of all making our kids great young men. Job well Done!!
Todd Staley,Jeff Stevens,Sina Guffey..Thank You!
The Student Council,The Student Section and every kid that walks those halls..Thank You! (JUST GET LOUDER)
Dana Mason, I cannot thank you personally enough. You do such a great job at everything you do. You are hands down one of the most fantastic people I have ever met. Thank you for your hard work and your smile!!!
Jed Blackwell,Travis Jenkins,Jason Gilmer,Bret McCormick..Thank you! I hope one day to “rassle” all four of you over a fine bottle and a collection of vinyl (and yes Jason you bring Buffet or Phish,but not both)
The fans of Spartanburg or just South Carolina Football in General who read all these articles for the last two years..there is nothing to say but Thank you.!
And Last but not least Every Player who puts on that Gold Helmet.Every Cheerleader.Every Band Member and every parent of every one of these kids who put in the time, the long drives, the late hours to make sure your kids are on the right track..The words Thank You do you no justice…but just know you deserve a standing ovation every day of the week.
I have big dreams For SHS..I still want to launch THE VIKING RADIO NETWORK before the new school opens. I want to be able to broadcast anything we do whenever we want,however we want. Volleyball To Football. The Spartanburg High School Vikings should never be at anyone elses mercy. WE SHALL STAND ALONE. INDEPENDENT. UNCONDITIONAL. BLUE & GOLD Forever.
Even Though My Lisa is gonna try to come to this Fridays Game against Dorman,I’m a realist, so Joseph..I’ll save a spot for you.
Finally,I am not gone forever,I will Pop Up from Time to Time after this weeks game..just follow @JEDBLACKWELL on twitter for updates.
As Far as articles over the next couple of weeks..it’s easy.. Beat Dorman, Beat Boiling Springs and Beat Gaffney..there is nothing else I can say.
and if there is one more thing I can ask of our beloved Spartanburg Vikings Football Team,Coaches,Cheerleaders,Teachers,etc…
If you need another reason to win and I mean win them all..I know I ask a lot of all of you..but just one more favor.. DON’T DO IT FOR ME, DO IT FOR MY LISA.
A Farewell To Kings from the bottom of my Blue & Gold Heart
—YOUR BIGGEST FAN
43-18-1. That’s the series record between Spartanburg and Dorman. It Seems kind of lopsided on paper and maybe in actually it is. I have never sat through a Friday Night where these teams have met and didn’t worry to some extent. 14 of the Dorman victories over Spartanburg have come since the arrival of Coach David Gutshall. The thing about this rivalry is that you truly never know whats going to happen. Spartanburg has won 4 in a row and 5 out of the last 7. There are numerous comebacks, game winning drives, game saving plays that have often brought about the final score in this series. You will get a lot of those stories, info and smack talk this week around the water cooler at work. Social Media will be set ablaze and somewhere a kid will be caught up in something that he didn’t even know he was in.
So that leads me to this part of my Trilogy(all of a sudden I’m composing a Trilogy like I was in RUSH)..The Kids.The Young men and women who make this week so special. From Cheerleaders like Destiny Shippy from Spartanburg to Brie Worthy from Dorman. These young women give their all during “Spirit Week” , not to mention the schedule and practice hours their respective squads put in through the school year.
Destiny(pictured below) explained to me about the weeks ongoing activities,” we don’t really have a spirit week this year. We are just having activities at lunch to raise money for Relay for Life and to bring awareness to Cancer.”
Coach Floyd has done a fantastic job with Spartanburgs Cheer Team. The Vikings Cheer remaining schedule is
10/14 @ Hillcrest
10/25 @ Dorman
11/4 in Columbia
Dorman Cheerleader(below) Brie Worthy was kind enough to do the same,”This week we are getting ready for the Friday game at Spartan High! We have themes for everyday. Monday-College Day Tuesday-Prep Day Wednesday-Pink Out Thursday-Throwback Friday-Farmers Day We are having our big Farmers Day pep rally Friday! We are just going to be getting ready for the big rival game Friday Night. We are trying to get all students involved this week and getting them to be there Friday night @ 7:30! The cheerleaders are preparing for Friday by helping with the pep rally and really getting the students involved! Friday is a big day for everybody and we are all more than ready for it!! Go Cavs!!!”
A collective thank you should be sent to all these young ladies who put forth the time and energy during the school year, not to mention rivalry week.
Now on to the players..some from the past, present and future.
Mike Wannamaker, one of Spartanburgs four featured Running Backs is excited to be part of this game on the Varsity level,”The up coming game is very big for me and my brothers knowing that a lot of people don’t believe that we can do it, there is most definitely there’s a lot of excitement and motivation in the locker room this week”. Wannamaker is the son of former Viking Running Back Mike Wannamaker who went 3-1 against Dorman in his 4,321 yard career,”It feels good to see my son play his 1st game against the cross town rivals and I know they remember that name Wannamaker.I just hope he adds a little more to that name and this rivalry.”
Shrine Bowl selection and Vikings outstanding Line Backer Connor Shugart knows this may be the last time he gets to play in this rivalry, “I’m feeling good, we are really coming together, and getting to play Dorman this week…. I just can’t wait.
It does come with some emotions though, this is the game everyone at school and around here waits for and it just means a lot for us and the community. It may be the last time I get to play Dorman, I want it to be special for my team and our fans.This is always such an exciting game all around.” When I asked Connor about the recent Shrine Bowl selection he said,”Making the Shrine Bowl it’s just such a blessing. I thank God for all the talent he has given to me and the positions he has placed me in. Also my teammates and coaches for always pushing me to be the best I can. It’s an honor to be selected but I’m focused on my team right now! I Can’t wait to see what happens this Friday.”
If for some reason you thought this game was lost on the folks down in Roebuck, you are sadly mistaken. “This game means everything to me and my teammates,” said Dorman standout Zack Hillstock Jr. “Our Campus loves it, we have something to do everyday of the week leading up to Friday! It’s rivalry week!”
Dorman is good, make no mistake about it.They are huge up front,disciplined and Have great Coaches. They are led by Dual Threat Daniel transfer Ben Batson who has thrown for 1042 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He is averaging 149 yards per game through the air and has rushed for 556 yards and 6 touchdowns resulting in a 74 yards per game average.
Former Viking Defensive Back and Current Western Carolina player Mike Murphy had this to say about this game,”The respect is earn and not given for this game, I feel this is the game that really shows who runs the city for a years worth of bragging rights”
Damyjai Foster who can score basically every time he touches the ball told me what it means to him,”the bye week was nothing new for us we do what we do best and that is work.”Foster continued,” some teams take time off and relax that week but not us. I believe the bye did catch us on a good week. We got a week to celebrate the win against Byrnes but also get back our mental focus.” As far as this potentially being his last game in this battle he said,”no, it doesn’t add anything special to me. We do what we do best and that’s burn the ships and so it is the Vikings Way.” He also added what he sees as the intangible,”the best thing about playing in games like this is both teams competing and also the community coming out to support both teams,that is what matters”
Fosters thoughts were echoed by fellow teammate and bruising Linebacker/Safety Thompson Rudolph.
“The bye week was definitely nice. It gave me a little bit of time to relax and take some personal time rather than having to prepare for a big game. He continued,”Even though we cut down a little on some practice time, we still were locked in the entire week. Coach Miller constantly reminded us that it is crucial to stay focused and have a great week of practice when no one is watching, which kept practices upbeat and kept everyone on the right track. Regarding the Dorman game the coaches have just stressed that it’s just another football game. Everyone knows that the atmosphere will be electric and this game will mean a little more, however we have to continue to stay focused, block out distractions, and just play the game the way we play it.”
Spartanburg Wide Out Romain Kelly spoke of the rivalry in these words,”I’m always ready for war and it’s my job to do my part at practice so I can prepare the defense for Friday night.”
Kelly continued,” We are facing a team that we have beating for four years straight but they are 1-0 in the region just like us so we can’t take them lightly we just got keep the streak going by winning this game and moving on to our next opponent. Our goal has not changed.We want to win this region.”
So have you, the reader got a grasp on it yet?? This game is kind of a big deal around this state and especially in Spartanburg County. Forget the bragging rights and all that comes along with Victory or Loss. This game will impact the playoffs, but that is another story all on it’s on.
Spartanburg Quarterback Keonte Cartledge kind of broke it down in the simplest of terms,”I feel great … I feel like this past week I have prepared myself well … I still got somethings to clean up but other than that I am very confident and our team is confident.”
Cartledge summed up his take on this game,” This is my first game against Dorman and it is big time game. We currently have a winning streak against them and I want to keep it going. The main thing is for us as a team is to make sure we take it one week at a time, one game at a time.”
This battle used to reward the victor with The Victory Bell. Players,Coaches,Cheerleaders would walk to the other side of the field to claim it or parade it if they were repeat winners.
I, like many Viking Fans want The Victory Bell to come back. Win or lose you just can’t kill tradition. The Victory Bell just vanished? Maybe if it is gone forever..we need a new trophy for this game. How about THE VICTORY SWORD?
If for no other reason..the kids from both schools deserve it.
There are many different ways to write about this rivalry. I could write about the history. I could write about the coaches.The Communities themselves could be brought into the equation. I could write about the Victory Bell, the Hail Mary passes or the blood, sweat and tears that have been left from Snyder Field to John L. Martin Stadium. The wins and losses that fall between Gibbs Stadium and Cavalier Stadium. So with so many places to start..where do I begin?
I’M A FIRM BELIEVER THAT ALL GOOD THINGS START WITH A FRIEND…
I met Jed Blackwell over the telephone,through the fantastic show THE PIEDMONT PICK’UM SHOW that aired for about twenty years in our area until this year. Jed Blackwell, Travis Jenkins and the Late Tommy Sims were my Saturday Morning Ritual.
Times change. There is plenty I could write about local sports radio.I could write about how angry I am about certain things and certain people, but to be quite honest. It is not worth the time or effort…and most of all it more than likely would just make heads and egos swell.
I guess my point is Jed Blackwell is the real deal. A true Journalist with a knowledge and love of High School Sports that I one day hope to have. I would love to call him my boss. So I had absolutely no question as to who to ask for an “outside” point of view about Spartanburg vs. Dorman.
(PLUS HE HAS THAT “fancy college book learning”)
“I had someone tell me one time that if Dorman and Spartanburg were playing tiddlywinks, it would draw a crowd.” That was Jed’s first words to me when I asked Him about this rivalry. “That’s true. In 1996 I was working at a paper in Horry County. I was riding back through the woods from Hemingway one night with my boss, we caught WSPA on the AM dial and I got him to turn it up. “Big game at home?”,his bossed asked. Jed replied,”Yeah, you could call it that.” Jed’s companion continued, “How many people you reckon they got?, a couple thousand?” Blackwell went on to fill him in,” Yessir. If by a “couple”, you mean 12,000.”
Jed went on to put it in perspective for the man, “He didn’t believe me. Nobody ever did. It’s something that you don’t understand unless you’re part of it. My mom started her teaching career at Dorman. My stepdad went to Spartanburg. They speak to each other on game week, but barely. It’s Clemson-Carolina and Duke-UNC and Oklahoma-Texas and Bama-Tennessee all at once. Farmers vs. Preppies. Eastside vs. Westside. It’s hard to put into words, so I don’t ever try. I say “Dorman-Spartanburg”, and that’s explanation enough.”
Jed is 100% correct. Dorman-Spartanburg says it all. He did offer one more comparison
“CORN DOG 7 vs. HOLMES HOTDOGS”
For those who are much too young to know what Corn Dog 7 is..There used to be a Hillcrest Mall where Taco Dog, Publix, and everything around that area now stands. Inside of that Mall was Corn Dog 7. Simple Menu for those days.Fresh Lemonade,Cheese Fries and homemade Corn Dogs. You could grab a Corn Dog after a round of Spy Hunter in Diamond Johns Arcade. Sam Wyche had a Sports World. (you see Sam Wyche was a great football coach and he opened this chain of sports stores..ahh..nevermind) I know the idea of a Hillcrest Mall falls short on most kids on the Eastside of Spartanburg, but it’s true..It once stood there and we were proud to claim it. Back Then you even got a 30 day guarantee with your cassette from Sound Shop or Record Bar. Those were places that you actually walked inside to buy your music.(YOU SEE MUSIC WAS SOMETHING YOU ACTUALLY USED TO PAY FOR) I didn’t need a 6 dollar coffee with my book from Waldenbooks, I just needed the wooden squares surrounded by gardens to sit and read that were placed throughout the mall. The Huge open Sunroof in the Atrium always gave enough reading light.
When I look around the world today with so much tragedy and hate. I have to believe a Good Corn Dog would go a long way. In reality, people don’t appreciate things that they have never experienced. The same holds true for Spartanburg vs. Dorman..if you havent experienced it, you more than likely won’t get it. If only a Corn Dog could change the world..If only a Hot Dog could open someones eyes.
so in other words eat more Corn Dogs and Hot Dogs…
Go see Spartanburg Vs. Dorman.. and like Tommy Sims used to say,..
“TAKE A KID TO A BALL GAME”
Follow Jed Blackwell at GOUPSTATE
3,092 yards. That’s the number that Former Viking Rodney Harris put on the history books in the late 1990’s. “Yes, I still love Them Vikings, but I love my babies even more.” That quote from the Blue & Gold Legend just about says it all. “I have two boys out there on Friday nights.”
Byrnes Defensive Back #8 Rodney Harris Jr and Running Back #47 Rahjai Harris are both his sons and the elder Harris couldn’t be prouder. “It’s amazingly special to see both of my young men playing against a team I once played for and still do support,” Harris said. “I don’t have any mixed emotions. I’m always gonna root for my boys and support them by any means that I can. I tell Rahjai all the time that he is a better running back than me.”
Rahjai echoed his fathers words when I asked him about being the son of a rivals historic player,” Yes ,It’s a lot of motivation to the whole school not just myself. I try my hardest to play harder than him every touch of the ball.” I could also hear the “family” in Rahjai and his words,”I just want to make my family proud. I look up to coaches & players that have already reached the goals that we want to reach as an individual and as a team.”
Rodney Harris,Jr who is making quite the name for himself as a shutdown corner will look to slow down the Viking playmakers such as Romain Kelly, Tommy Washington and Moe Wedman.
This Friday Night at Nixon Field somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 fans will pack into the stands.
They will stand along the grass hills that roll the stadium border.Some will be in Blue & Grey, some in Blue & Gold. The Spartanburg Students and Fans will be wearing all Black as to be a part of a “blackout” theme, while the Nixon Nuts and Rebel Fans will sport Pink & Gold as part of their theme of bringing awareness to Pediatric and Breast Cancer. …It all makes for a “colorful evening”.
An evening that is already set up to be exciting before the Game even starts. The Rebels are 5-0 and ranked 2nd in the state according to MaxPreps. They are averaging 170 yards passing and 164 yards rushing per game. Balanced to say the least. Byrnes is scoring right at 31 points per game. The Strikeforce Defense has only allowed 6 touchdowns through 5 games and 3 of those were to New Jersey Power Don Bosco Prep.
Spartanburg’s Fast Raid offense is producing about 230 yards through the air and 169 on the ground. Balanced, considering the fiasco that surrounded the Vikings first two games. Spartanburg will roll into Duncan on a 4 game win streak and a 34 point per game average. The Vikings defense is allowing about 14 points per game during this current win streak.
I spoke with Byrnes Student Reporter Micheal Covil. He told me of the atmosphere around the hallways of James F. Byrnes, “It’s exciting. Coming off a bye week things are not mellow, by the end of the week we will be even more excited. It’s always exciting to open region play and to play a big rival, especially at home.” Covil continued,”There is renewed passion in the program this year. We feel like we have our mojo back. Our class of 2018 is good, and we know it. We as a school and a community are out to prove ourselves this year. We know it’s still early in the season and we have to show up on Friday nights.” When I asked Micheal about a deciding factor in this Fridays game he responded, “I’d have to say offense. Will our offense be able to do enough to get the job done? They can’t be flat like they were last season. We have to come out ready to roll from kickoff.”
Spartanburg Outside Linebacker Jay Rice said, “This is probably the most excited I’ve been for a game, I can’t wait for Friday, the stadium is gonna be packed, it is going to be a great night.”
Vikings Running Back Zykamren Robinson is ready for Friday Night, “I can’t even put into words how excited I am. I just know we are ready to play.”
Defensive specialist Reggie Anderson said,” I’m very excited about this Friday.The Region play is starting.It is so important for us to get into a rhythm on both sides of the ball.”
Spartanburg Defensive Lineman Joshua “Chicago” Villegas said,”I’m very excited, everything we’ve done over the summer until this point was to prepare for region games.”
Joshua continued, “There is a lot hype for the game Friday night, Byrnes has had a pretty good start to their season and we’ve had a slow start but we have come back strong. I’m looking forward to the game. It’s a true Friday Nights Battle.”
So the groundwork has been laid by both teams. Byrnes and Spartanburg both have arrived to the same starting point. We both are ready to start region play after different routes through the non region schedule.
This Friday Night will be a deciding Friday Night. It may not crown the region champion but whomever wins will surely set themself up really well to accomplish that in a few weeks…and who ever comes up short will still have time to position themselves as well as they can. There is plenty of football left to play and every week will be a big game.
The aforementioned former Viking and current Rebel father Rodney Harris hit the nail on the head with his take on the game. “It’s two great programs and two exceptionally great coaches.” He went on to say, “I think it’s going to come down to which staff out coaches the other.”
3,092 YARDS. EVERY ONE OF THOSE YARDS WERE EARNED.
I thought about that. Sure there are the on the field factors that will ultimately decide the victor but…whichever coaching staff has better prepared the team for the situations that arise friday night will more than likely win. I guess it’s another one of those things that make football so great, just because you are better than someone this coming Friday Night doesn’t mean you will be better than someone next Friday Night…and that is something that our entire region and state can be proud of..South Carolina High School Football is great. Everywhere around our state will be battle ready come Friday Night.
I think of the history of each of our programs. I see where ESPN is doing a story about Valdosta Georgia Football. I always hear about Texas,Florida,Ohio,etc..and I know we have those stories here.Our football is great.
I used to think South Carolina needed the nation’s respect for our High School Football.
I still feel jaded to a degree but through the years I realized something.. Our Respect is ultimately determined by ourselves. It is determined by what stories we write about ourselves. The quality of product we put on the field statewide every week I’ll stand behind until the very end.
I’ve seen Remember The Titans..I’ve seen Friday Night Lights..Both are great teams and movies. But I’m willing to bet a paycheck there won’t be Byrnes or Spartanburg player, coach or fan that would rather be in Odessa, Texas this Friday Night.
There are plenty of Lights right here in the upstate and last time I checked my calender…every 52 Fridays, we get 52 new fridays…never ending Fridays around these parts and we don’t have to brag about quarterfinals.
plus I’d like to think theres a man repairing an old rusted out state championship sign on some deserted Texas Highway thinking to himself, “I sure wish I was in South Carolina this Friday.”