Out with the old, in with the new

The dust had settled, the tears dried and the buses unloaded before we realized what had happened.

David Matlock
David Matlock

We had reached the GHSA Class A semifinals.

While it meant little to the team that we had fallen one game short of the championship game in the Georgia Dome last season, football enthusiasts continued to congratulate us at every turn.

Football referees thanked us for putting Middle Georgia back on the map.  People cornered us at the grocery store and asked, “how is the team looking for next season?”

But nothing rings more in my mind than “What will you do without Quintez and O’Showen?”

Quintez Cephus signed a national-letter-of-intent with Wisconsin, and could be playing on national TV when the Badgers open the season on Sept. 3 against LSU at the legendary Lambeau field, home of the Green Bay Packers.

O’Showen Williams signed a basketball scholarship with South Georgia State College. David Haithcock signed a football scholarship with Berry College. Carter Canady is at Mercer as a football manager. Sim Patrick, John Michael O’Quinn, Jack Peterson and Pierce Reeves, who all were starters and contributors, begin their college experience this fall.

We lost half of our entire starting unit. We lost one of the top receivers in Georgia. We lost one of the most productive running backs in the GHSA. We lost two all-region linemen.

All we hear about is what we lost.

Focusing on what is behind us takes away the focus we need for what lies ahead.

The guy in a different colored jersey huffing sweat three inches from your grimy face mask is more important than a game more than eight months before.

The bruising and vicious and exhausting 10-game regular season that stands in the way of a chance for punching a ticket to the Dome.

The grueling post-season, where every team is hungry and alone in a savage fight for the finish.

There is no time for grieving.

Teams that focus on the last season, the last game, and the last play never have the discipline to win the next play, the next game, or the championship. Staying positive, moving to the next objective … these are what we need for just a chance at winning.

We gained two dedicated juniors starters, Jourdain Irvin and Nathan Hunt, who transferred to Stratford this summer. We added a fresh senior face in Luke Slappey. We are now suiting up 50 players, which is the most in the locker room in my high school football career.

We gained strength from working out tirelessly since the day we ended our march to the semifinals. We gained an understanding of our team during our Special Team Weekend at Athens Y Camp this past August.

We would like to focus less on the losses we suffered and more on how we are making a new image.

David Matlock is a senior football player and a sports writer for The Gazebo.