Musing With Cecil Buffington ~ A Continuing Legacy

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 Musing With Cecil Buffington

A Continuing Legacy

It was a perfect football night. The air was crisp and a slight breeze flowed through the stands at Memorial Stadium. Upon entering the stadium, I took a seat on the 50-yard line next to Al Westmoreland and his wife Anita. Al and I go back all the way to high school where we played basketball together for the Dragons. As we watched the captains meet at the center of the field on the big Brantley Porter painted "Diamond J", I commented on the great size of the Dragons opponent on this night. The Captain standing across from one of the Dragon captains, Colby Clark dwarfted him as he weighed over 325 pounds and stood about 6'- 4".  This Pirate team from Appling County was a huge team in comparison to the fairly good sized Jefferson squad.  I wondered to myself just how well we might move the ball on a team this big.  I have to admit I was somewhat concerned as the teams lined up for the kickoff.

When Jefferson elected to defer and kick to the pirates I must also admit I wasn't too pleased with the decision. When the big linemen for Appling County pushed the ball down the field my thought's were it could be a long night for the Dragons. It was third and eight from the 48-yard line on what was the key play in the opening Pirate drive, "Com'on Dragons, hold em. Watch for a pass. Oh, my goodness, they have a guy open on the 38 yard-line" . . . first down Pirates. I mentioned to Al that their quarterback threw the ball pretty well and we had to be more agressive on pass defense. The pirates continued to 3 or 4 yards us to death as they moved slowly down the field. Their big 230-pound running back was a force that we couldn't stop on this drive as he crashed into the end zone from the 1-yard line to put the visitors up 7 - 0.

I looked at the scoreboard, it showed 5:29 left in the first quarter, They had held the ball for almost 7 minutes. I became even more uneasy as the Dragons could gain only 8 yards on their first posession and had to punt the ball with almost 3 minutes left in the quarter. I reasurred myself, "Com'on defense, rise up, you can do it."

After picking up one first down the Pirates punted to Jefferson.

The Dragons would start the second quarter at their own 17-yard line. I said to Al, "we have to get it in the end zone here or we might be in some big trouble." Colby Clark asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with as he made some key third down conversions as the Dragons steadily moved the ball down the field. With 2:56 left in the half,  Clark scored the first of his four touchdowns on the night with a 2-yard dive over the bunched up Pirate defensive line. The drive had been 15 plays and ate up 9:04 on the clock. The Dragons only had the ball for two series in the first half.

It was a different Dragon team that showed up after halftime. After receiving the ball to start the second half, a key 15-yard chop block penalty took the Dragons from a second down and 1 on the visitor 42 to a second down and 16 on their own 42. Another 5-yard penalty preceeded a Clark punt to the Pirates 37-yard line.

After a visitor 3 and out, the Dragons went to work. Fourth and one at the Pirates 33. Al said, "who do you think will carry the ball on this play?" I smiled as I said, "Colby Clark." Right on cue, Clark cut off tackle, broke 2 tackles on the stacked Pirate line and out ran two other defenders for the 33-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Dragon lead at the 6:22 mark of the third quarter.

The Dragons put up aother score with 2:29 left in the third quarter and put the game completely out of reach with a 68-yard, 13-play drive that ate up another 5-plus minutes in the fourth quarter with only 4:20 remaining in the game. This made the final score Jefferson 28 and Appling County 7.

I mentioned to Al that I had predicted a 28 - 20 Jefferson victory earlier in the day on facebook. He said. "Well, you were half right."

I think I owe the Jefferson defense an apology for thinking they might give up 20 points. This defensive team, althought young, is a strong, capable defense that can rise to the occasion when needed as demonstrated earlier in the season down in Hart County with a late game stop that preserved a big Dragon win.

Now, is this the best Dragon team we have ever had in Jefferson? I'm not going to put the monkey on their back by rendering an opinion here, but I will say that this is the most enjoyable team I have ever watched in my 65 years of attending Jefferson games. They are incredible! The Coach Cathhcart offense is built for Quarterback Colby Clark. He runs the offense like a maestro conducting a symphonic ochestra. This squad epitomizes the team concept. They are a complete unit that supports each other every play of every game. The people of Jefferson and supporters of Jefferson High School have every reason to exhibit their pride in having these young men represent them in state-wide athletic competition. They represent us so very well. I often think of Morris Bryan, Jr., and how proud he would be of this school and the tremendous educational and athletic accomplishments they have achieved over the years.

Now it's on to Crisp County. The Region 1 champions will be a big challenge to the Dragons, but if I was betting man, I'd probably bet the Dragons will find a way to win the game. That's the Jefferson Dragons legacy in 2019. "Find a way to win." That's the mark of a true champion.