OPINION: Giving back to the gift of football

As the 2009 high school football season officially began with Monday’s practices across the state, a few questions naturally came with the opening of each camp.
In Monroe County, the questions are broad, from quarterbacks to new, old coaches.
Here are a few one-word gifts that each of the six teams here need to receive before they open the season on Aug. 27-28.

Forgetfulness
For the Nettleton Tigers, forgetfulness is key. Forget 2006. The state title appearance should now officially be somewhere in the reminiscent portion of Nettleton fans’ brains. It’s time to get back to the playoffs after a two-year absence.

Blinders
That’s what the Amory Panthers need. Now back in Class 4A (with two defending state champions) look at the schedule in one-week portions. That list is intimidating. So was last year’s and it resulted in a huge win over Aberdeen, a close call against 3A champ Louisville and a near-win against undefeated Corinth in the playoffs.
Quarterback
Somebody has to take the reins under center at Smithville. Brett Bridges was solid for the Seminoles last season, leading them back to the playoffs. Good skill guys and a solid offensive line can vanish without the right signal caller.
Mindset
A new one, that is, for Hatley. The Tigers haven’t won enough games over the past few seasons to warrant a look back to see exactly how many, but a new, old coach in Sam Wilson gives the program a reason to start fresh. A new coach will only take you as far as the players will. Hit the field – and stay on the field- when the going gets tough. You can be the ones to turn this ship back around, but it’s going to take short-term memory and a new mindset.
Growth
In Hamilton, the Lions have an opportunity to be pretty good. They were pretty good last season and stayed somewhat under the radar. Young at key spots, with the right maturation, some of the young names could be easily spotted on the radar sooner than later.
Eyes
Not that the Aberdeen Bulldogs don’t have eyes, I’ve seen them practice and as far as I could tell, they all have two eyes each. What I mean by eyes, is “Eyes on the Prize.” Not to jinx them, but this team has a chance to be good, really, really good. Knowing that can be either your best friend or your worst enemy. Expectation is one thing. How you handle them is what matters.

Brandon Speck is the sports editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at (662) 256-5647 or brandon.speck@monroe360.com.

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal