When All You Got Ain't Good Enough
by Mark Jeffcoat
Special to WWW.SCPIGSKINPREP.COM
Many of us who grew up with a pair of tennis shoes on and some manner of sports uniform on nearly year round were taught at an early age to give everything you have in the effort to play the game, whatever it might have been.
Some of us never let up from the time the game started until it was over. Others would put forth the effort when the attention was on them and then slack up when it was not.
Many of us, over the years, have seen extremely talented athletes that were looked up to by their team mates, take advantage of their position and fail to put out their best in practice while the regular (defined as average) players were busting their hump from start to finish. You know the guy who walked fine until it was time to head for practice and now all of a sudden he has a limp and tells the coach he needs the whirlpool before he goes out. Then sometime around an hour after you have been out there sweating your butt of with full pads in the August heat, he comes waltzing out like he is the man (cause he is the man, just ask him, he'll tell you). Anyway, by now you are so ticked off at him all you want is a shot at nailing him as he comes through the line................
Johnny Superstar lines up as the deep back in an I formation slot right. From your left outside LB position you notice that the line between you and him is wide open.
Ball is snapped, FB dives left, QB fakes the handoff. Johnny Superstar takes a stutter step to the left and comes back to his right for the handoff. Slot man takes the DE who is containing the play inside, tackle blocks down on the DG and there ain't nothing but air between you and Johnny Superstar. About the time the QB shoves the ball in his gut, you shove a helmet in his numbers and end up drilling him to the ground as the ball flies down field for somebody else to fall on.
Now you make sure you are dripping a lot of nasty sweat right in his face as you lay there waiting for him to take a breath.
About that time you find yourself flying backwards through the air as the Coach (the really big one) grabs you by the backside of your pants and yanks for all he is worth.
Johnny ain't getting up so fast. And you just ticked off every coach on the team for hurting the star player.
Johnny Superstar is helped to the locker room by the trainers and you spend the rest of practice running around the field and, getting yelled at every time you pass the RB Coach.
Now, you know you weren't trying to hurt him. That was just an opportunity to properly welcome someone to practice that was a hour late getting on the field.
As fate would have it, Johnny Superstar doesn't practice the rest of the week and it's all your falt.
You line up on Friday night and all of a sudden Johnny Superstar feels fine, lines up carries the ball 24 times for 267 yards, and 4 touchdowns and is the hero of the game.
This little scenario I just laid out is played out week after week at High Schools across the country. I had a Johnny Superstar when I played in small town West Texas and everyone else who played can most likely remember someone who took advantage of his talent to get out of a lot of the "unglamorous" stuff like practice, lifting and wind sprints.
And then, there is the guy who sets the pace for the team everyday in practice and on Friday nights. I have had the pleasure of knowing a good many of these young men in my life and they are the ones I want to recognize. If I may be allowed, I would like to mention a few of these warriors that I recall from over the years:
First off, Steve Burnett of Sundown Texas. I played with this guy for 3 of my 4 years in HS back in the mid 70's. He ended up being my brother-in-law. Steve was a kind, gentle young man……until you put a helmet on him. He seemed to transform himself into a Tasmanian devil. He was not the fastest guy, he was only 5'11 180, but I have literally seen him do things on the football field that were humanly impossible. He could hit harder than anyone I ever saw at the HS level. And what was strange was, he practiced just as hard as he played. He never missed a practice in 4 years of varsity football and to my knowledge never came off the field once a game started. You see, he was the starting middle linebacker and the starting offensive guard. He was also on all the special teams. 4 years of football at 100 miles an hour. Steve graduated HS without a single offer to play ball at any level. He was not that talented, but he had a heart the size of the state of Texas.
Todd Varne of Cayce, SC. Todd was the son of a good friend of mine who ran the Cayce/West Columbia recreation league when I live there from 1983-87. Todd was a classic case of a lot of heart, a lot of speed and not a lot of size. He was the RB for the 1985/86 Airport High football team. Some of you reading this may remember him. He is another kid who set the example everywhere he went. Just as hard Monday –Thursday as he went on Friday night. He ended up with a scholarship to NC State and started for the Wolfpack his senior year if I remember correctly. Lost touch with him when I left and not sure what he is doing today, but he was a little guy with a big heart for sure.
Sonny Carroway of Cayce, SC. During the time I lived in the Columbia area I had the pleasure to coach football and baseball for the Cayce/West Columbia Rec Department. Sonny was on my team, Cayce Moose Lodge, the second year I coached. He was the smallest kid on the field in practice and during the games. He played like he was 9 feet tall. He was fearless. He ran as hard as he could, hit with everything he had and flat wore the other boys on that team out. He was our Head Hunter award winner that year. He was the hero that won the championship for the team by stopping a much bigger kid on the 2 yard line with no time on the clock to preserve a 2 point lead and give the Moose Lodge the league championship. As league champ, you got to pick your All Star team. He was my first pick.
Before I get to the next part, let me give you some background. You see Sonny was so small that nobody ever even considered checking his birth certificate to make sure he was within the required age limit for the league. Matter of fact his parents later told me that his Birth Certificate had never been checked in 5 years of playing sports. Everyone always just assumed he was legal due to his size.
Well, as part of the All Star rules every member of the team had to have their Birth Certificate on file with the league chairman in case the opposing team wanted to challenge the age of any player. I had all the players bring a copy of their BC to practice over the next few days. Once I thought I had