Diaries of a Football Madman
by Dave Pickren
September 10, 2001
Everyone has that game each season that they look forward to more than the others.
That game against the biggest rival, or the great road trip or the weekend they are having out of town friends visit to see the big game. This past weekend I was able to experience all three at the same time and revel in the joy of South Carolina football.
When the schedules came in the spring, I knew that the weekend of September 8, 2001 was going to be a special weekend.
First off, my beloved Dorman Cavaliers would have the opportunity to avenge their only loss of 2000 against a great Greenwood Eagle team. A trip to Pinky Babb stadium in Greenwood would start the weekend off in a fantastic fashion. Next my Wofford Terriers would have a chance to shock the world in Tiger Town and finally a good ole fashion border war between the hedges in Athens with the Gamecocks trying to duplicate last year's emotional win against the Bulldogs.
Friday, September 8
Out the door, and on the road to Greenwood with my son for the Game of the
We stop for gas and my son begins the routine that every kid runs at the gas station and asks for candy, Sure I say. He pushes his luck and asks for bubble gum, then a drink and finally a coloring book. The kid is smart and realizes his Dad is thinking only about the game. Before the night is over, the kid has been promised a new car when he turns 16, a new video game and has received permission to stay up for all of Monday Night Football.
Pull into Arby's for the first of many fast food experiences. More on this later.
Greenwood High School Parking Lot.
Basically there is no parking so we make one. People arriving at 8 are going to walk a few miles; something I will get used to over the next 24 hours.
Someone at Greenwood is selling chicken dinners for $5 bucks!!! Meanwhile I am eating Arby's.
Advice to schools selling food at the game.
TELL THE OTHER SCHOOL.
POST ON SCPREPFOOTBALL.COM.
I would have bought 2 dinners to avoid the Arby's plague.
That chicken smelled good and the Arby's stuff was..well..cold.
Full Choke shows up smiling (he didn't eat at Arbys) and content in the knowledge that I have saved him a seat on the 50 and he will not be standing up. Earl the Pearl also shows up about this time and takes his seat. Hail, Hail the gang's all here.
I know we are going to beat Greenwood by 3 Touchdowns
I am still confident we are going to beat Greenwood only now it is up to 4 touchdowns.
Greenwood runs onto the field.
They look big.
They look strong.
They look fast.
I think we can still beat Greenwood
Dorman by a point
We get the kickoff and score first. Kendrick Lynch goes 70 yards without getting touched.
I now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are going to beat Greenwood by at least 7 touchdowns.
They get the ball.
They score easily.
Dvon Hill is very fast. Sam Williams is very good. Greenwood is a good team.
We may not beat Greenwood after all.
Richardo Hurley smashes QB Andrew Hewitt to the ground in a vicious tackle. Did anyone get the license tag of that truck? Andrew gets up slowly. He may not know where he is but makes it back to the huddle. There is no standing 8 count in football.
We score another touchdown and Kendrick Lynch is faster than Superman.
Greenwood scores another touchdown
Dorman scores to take a 21-14 and leads at the half. I feel very confident that we are going to beat Greenwood by at least 6 Touchdowns in the second half.
I tell Full Choke that all we have to do is score a touchdown and we will win the game. I give him a 2 minute math lesson on the physics of scoring touchdowns and why we will win if we have one more. He looks at me bewildered and drinks another Diet Coke. He is not amused. Earl the Pearl looks tired. Everyone else around me is now related to Kendrick Lynch since he scored 2 touchdowns. Amazing how everyone is your friend when you score touchdowns
The awe inspiring half time show is over. The litter bug won. Don't ask.you really don't want to know.
We receive the kick and promptly turn it over. I feel very bad and it is not the Arby's.
We intercept a pass and I decide to eat the last Roast Beef sandwich. Life is good.
Dorman fumbles again. Maybe it was the Arby's but I don't like the way things are going.
Roscoe P. Coltrane working the PA for Greenwood says there are still chicken dinners left. I shake my head in disbelief as I stare at the Arby's bag.
Dorman score another touchdown to go up by 7 with 3 minutes to play. I like our chances.
Sam Williams is leading the Eagles down the field for another score and has 3 time outs and a minute to play. They are at the Dorman 5 yard line. My stomach is hurting once again. I hate Arby's.
Amazingly Dorman holds Greenwood on 4 plays from inside the 10 to win the game. We are very happy. I never doubted for a second that we would win.
We are heading home after the Cavalier victory. I am very thankful that we will not see Greenwood again. Surely more than 1 Cavalier will spend time in the Whirlpool on Saturday. It was a tough, physical game. If they played it 10 times then each side would probably win 5.
I come to the conclusion that there is not a worse high school football scoreboard show in America than Stan Olenick and the Greenville Tech Scoreboard. For 20 minutes, they have been talking about some new machine at Tech and playing commercials. Willie Varner is talking about something but I can not understand him. He says that Woodruff played Abbeville tough but lost 56-0. OK.
After 20 minutes they have not given a single score. I can not stand it anymore and scan the dial for Phil Kornblut but can barely get 560 out of Columbia. Listening to static is better than listening to The Greenville Tech infomercial.
I try to call MJ to tell him we won but he is not home. I think I scared his wife to death.
Talk to Mike at the Times Democrat in Orangeburg
He is happy we won and is still looking for USC / Georgia tickets. They are up to $150 on EBay. I think Mike decides to watch it on ESPN. He has a deadline so I hang up.
Finally make it home. Log on to scprepfootball. Not much happening yet. Watch Pete Yanity on Channel 7. They show highlights from 349 games in 10 minutes. Pete looks lost even though I think he is the best in the business. Basically the highlights consist of showing the team's uniform colors and a shot of the cheerleaders or band. Nothing else, 2 shots and move to the next game. I rewind the tape and watch Dorman again then I look for the Lexington tape from Week 1. Life is good.
Saturday September 8, 2001
The alarm goes off as Coach PickrenZONE gets ready for the Purple Knights 9:00AM encounter with the Green Machine in the 5 year old AYSO soccer league. We are not very good. Most of the players are blaming the coach. My contract is under review.
This was a good game. We had no injuries and no one cried on either team. Everyone liked the halftime drink selection and the Juice Pouches are well received.
We lose 2-0 but no one is really keeping score. My son is excited that he kicked the ball in the creek. He hopes we make it home in time for Power Rangers.
We are now off to Clemson to watch the T-Dogs battle the Kitty Kats.
"Pug-Uglies" and "Disgruntled" are with me. "Full Choke" bails on us. Something about a water pipe busting and mud going through his house. Sounds lame to me.
We arrive at Clemson. There is no traffic. There are fewer people. We park 13 miles from the stadium and walk. And Walk. And Walk.
There are thousands of tickets to the game for sell. People at first are asking face. We offer $20 for 4 tickets. One very smart lady takes it and we are sitting 8 rows up on the 50 in a sea of orange. I hate orange. I hate Orange so much that Halloween is not celebrated in our house.
Despite logic telling me otherwise, I am absolutely, positively, without a doubt, sure that we are going to beat Clemson by at least 30.
Wofford score first and takes a 7-0 lead. We are delirious. We are crazy. We are acting very obnoxious.
Clemson scores. It was luck and the receiver pushed off AGAIN.
Wofford scores to go up 14-7. My cell phone rings. Full Choke calls to ask if I am still alive. My Dad calls from New York City to check on the score. He is shocked.
I don't care what happens now; I can live on these two touchdowns for the next 10 years. Wofford beats Clemson for a quarter. "Pug Uglies" and "Disgruntled" are equally happy.
Life is not good. Clemson has scored again. And again And again It is ugly.
We leave the stadium midway through the 4th quarter. The Clemson fans give us a cheer as we leave. I am not sure if they are cheering our loyalty and energy for the Terriers or if they are just glad that we are leaving.
I tell Pug Uglies to take a right at the light to avoid the traffic. I know a short cut.
We run into a dead end at Lake Hartwell.
Pug Uglies is not amused. We turn around and I am heckled merciless.
We arrive in Athens, GA for the border war.
We find parking where the girl takes our $15 and tells us the stadium is 5 blocks that way and less than 5 minutes away.
After tailgating for the 3rd time in less than 24 hours, we start to walk to the stadium.
We quickly realize that the stadium is much farther than 5 blocks and is actually closer to 5 miles way. The girl of course is gone and so is my $15 dollars.
We arrive at the stadium where the heckling is going strong from both sides. It is obvious from this crowd that Coors, Bud, Jack and Jim all did good business on this day.
Tickets are being scalped out front for $200 a piece. I consider for a moment that $200 will cover half a car payment but decide what the heck and go on inside. It is very crowded.
Somehow, someway Carolina defeats the Bulldogs. We are tired; we are sweaty and very happy. Gamecock cheers everywhere. The stadium tunnels turns into an impromptu Pep Rally.
We start the 23 ½ mile walk back to car. We are looking for the same people that heckled us 3 hours earlier. They are gone. Bulldog fans are pulling in their flags and folding up the tailgate. They are heading home and complaining that Vince Dooley would have never lost that game. Most are still hoping that Herschel Walker has a year of eligibility left.
We finally make it to the car and head home. The girl that sold us the $15 parking spot 5 blocks from the stadium is long gone. I complain about the walk one final time and we head to Interstate 85.
Traffic is backed up. The call-in show on the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network is great comedy. We move along at a brisk pace of 5 MPH. We go through many small towns. Every see Deliverance? This is where it was filmed.
We finally make the interstate.
We fall into the house and into bed.
9 hours in a car.
12 quarters of football
3 great football games
1 weekend we will never forget.
Sunday, September 9, 2001
I think Sunday occurred but you could not prove it by me. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.
Maybe next weekend we can sleep and recover...Oh.. we are headed to Stratford to watch the Knights and Green Wave. Sleep is for wimps. We can sleep in January. Right now it is football season and the game is on.