This was a week when two different world's ran in to each other. As a staff here at Mercer, we have spent much of the week working to continue getting on the same page. Offensive & defensive schemes, gameplans, the weightroom, practice plans, etc. have all been discussed. Don't underestimate how tough it is for a football program and staff to become one cohesive unit. Communication, listening, explanations, etc. are critical and often a staff of football coaches can be a strong-willed group of guys.
JT Walsh (7) & Brandon Drake (61) in our season opening win at Bath County. (1996). My first game as a Royal. I am not sure I have ever had a team more excited to play a football game than those guys were that night.
During our discussions this week, Coach Rowland (our Mercer DC) told me that when he met Chris Ullery (our Mason DC), Coach Ullery asked him if we still did .... and gave him a list of things we did at Mason. Apparently the answer was "Yes!" Of course, no one would ever accuse me of being stubborn...(sarcasm).
Travoris Beckley at West Carter in 1996. This win broke a 3 game losing streak.
I had a bunch of other reminders this week of my first few years in Maysville. Jordan Johnson(Waggener) & Jonathan Thomas (Mason County) are both currently head coaches and were freshmen on my first team at Mason County in 1996. I talked to Jordan & Jonathan both this week. I am proud of those guys!
I got to talk to Butch & Kim Chain this week. Their son Ray played on my first teams at Mason. Butch and Kim continued to do video on Friday nights and are still helping the Royals from the press box when the lights come on. Butch & Kim have given much to those kids and that football program.
I got to talk to Coach Ullery this week who has become an assistant athletic director at Mason County. Those kids are fortunate to have him in that role.
And, we were able to eat dinner with our good friends, Tim & Jenny Sargent. I coached both their sons at Mason County, Ty & Mason. And, their daughter Taylor was the inspiration for our pregame speech the night we beat the Red Devils in Flatwoods for the first time (2008)!
Rees Denham in Mason County's first ever victory over Russell in 1997. We got behind 17-0.
Our week at Mercer and all the Mason County encounters reminded me of Royals Football in the late 90s. It was a tough time but it was a great time. Very rewarding. The same things that make football tough, are the same things that make football great. It is hard for such a large group of strong-willed men, young and old, to get on the same page and become one heart beat. But, when you fight through it together and make progress toward a common goal, it is a tremendous feeling... and one that you can only experience as a group. It is the constant challenge of putting the team ahead of yourself on a daily basis that enables a squad to come together as one. That is a big challenge for me and helps push me to be a better person. It is a challenge I need.
Seth Faulkner (11) & Geoff Sherman (50) in a big road win at Erlanger Lloyd, 1999.
Jeremy Wheeler (67), Harry Lewis (2) & Matt Gilbert (42) in the Homecoming upset win over #4 Newport in 1999
While I was getting in my 3 mile run tonight, this old song came up. In the late 90's, those Mason County kids always liked this song at their dances after a ballgame. I can't hear this song without thinking about those kids and what a wonderful time that was for all of us.
Those were not easy days, but that time was a great experience and we did have alot of fun and rewarding days & Friday nights. When I feel like we have a long way to go in getting all of our guys on the same page, I remember the Royals of the late 90s, and I realize that what we are going through right now at Mercer is just as special and to ENJOY this process and time. Good luck in 2017 to the Royals, Titans, Greyhounds, and all the football programs that are working hard to become one heartbeat when the lights come on for that first Friday night this fall.
Photos from the Maysville Ledger Independent