MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON ~ A FAN IN THE STANDS

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MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON

A Fan In The Stands At Jefferson Memorial Stadium 

 It was chilly Friday night at 6:45 p.m. when I walked into Jefferson Memorial Stadium.

The teams were just coming onto the field for pre-game warmups.

I took my usual seat about midway up from the track close to the fifty-yard line. It was the first time this season I had to dress for a cold weather game and it was getting colder by the minute.

I watched as Hayden Kilgore kicked the ball through the goal posts and thought to myself, "we might need a field goal or two so I'm glad he's kicking the ball well on this night."

I watched as all the players from both teams went through their pre-game rituals. I thought to myself, "White County has a good kicker and that freshman quarterback can throw the ball pretty well."

After the National Anthem and the Dragons team entrance onto the field, I was hyped up and ready for the game to begin.

"Com'on Hayden. kick it into the end zone . . . Oh no, down to the 5-yard line. Hope they don't get a good run back out of this."

I felt good after we stopped their kick return at the 22-yard line and watched as they received a 5-yard penalty for illegal motion before running their first play from scrimmage ----- "Here they come, a handoff to the right side. Com'on Noah and Terrell, make that tackle, Get'em Colby Clark, . . . my goodness, this could go all the way."

Suddenly after about 25 seconds we were down 7 - 0. The White County back had broken an 83-yard run on us for a touchdown. I asked myself, "what's happened to our run defense, we're getting killed on off-tackle sweeps."

The Dragon offense answered swiftly with a touchdown from Justin Cole and a Colby Wood two-point conversion to give the Dragons an 8 - 7 lead about midway through the first quarter. Thank GOD for Colby Wood, Justin Cole, Bryce Moore, Sammy Elegreet, Garmon Randolph, Zac Corbin and that offensive line. Great blocking as they moved the ball down the field.

I pulled my sock cap further down on my head and slid on my gloves as the temperature dropped and the chill increased while watching intensely as White County pounded at our defensive line, . . . left, right, off tackle. Com'on, guy's . . . hit-em! . . . You can do it! . . . We need a stop!

The Dragons did get that stop and started moving toward the Warrior goal line. Com'on Colby . . . Oh! Oh! they're going to get him for a loss, . . . way to break that tackle, keep that ball moving. Oh! my goodness, Justin , you have to catch that pass . . . watch that ball into your hands . . . Bryce is going to pass. Oh! my goodness, Colby is wide open around the 15, throw the ball ! TOUCHDOWN Dragons - Moore to Wood - "that Kilgore is automatic on the point after - we're up 15 -7." Whew!

After the ensuing kick-off, the White County team pushed the ball back down the field in a hurry;  about 4 minutes left in the half.  Got to stop them here.  Fourth down and four yards for the first down.  He's going to pass, . . . get him, . . . look out he's gonna' run . . . great tackle Colby Clark. Knocked him out of bounds short of the first down, . . . what?, . . .  late hit, no way, . . . you've got to be kiddin' me.  Com' on, ref! . . .   Goodness . . . terrible call.

From the one yard line . . . grounding! Boy, we dodged a bullet here.  First 10 second run-off I've ever seen in high school.  Half-time . . . 

I thought to myself. "We were lucky on that stop. We've got to fix that inability to stop the run. We continue to get killed on sweeps and off-tackle stuff. We're better on the corners than we're showing.

At half-time I chatted briefly with Guy Dean and Jimmy Benson about our habit of always electing to kick-off after winning the toss and a few other little gripes and grumbles we had about what we were seeing on the field. We agreed that we have the ability to be better on our corner play. We've just got to get meaner and play smarter on the outside runs. We may love our Dragons, but we reserve the right to a few low key gripe and grumble's every now and then.

What's this . . . an onside kick to start the second half . . . my goodness, the Warriors have recoverd it. Oh no, they've got the ball. Look out, they'er going to throw it,   . . .  Yea, great interception, Addison Clay . . . great job Dragons. Now let's put another score on the board.

After a good drive and some key plays, Colby Wood's second touchdown of the night put the Dragons up 22 - 7 as the game entered the fourth quarter. I thought to myself, "looks good at this point, we need another stop."

Didn't happen,  . . . White County took it down the field, converted two key fourth down plays and scored to make it 22 - 13. They're going for two. Look out, they're going to throw it, He's coming back to the left, a guy is open. . . . goodness, great play Colby Wood, way to bat the ball down. They still need two scores to beat us.

Now we're rolling, here goes Colby Wood, . . .  5, 10, 20, 30, 40 yards, . . . great catch Sammy . . . touchdown Colby Wood, ~ as stadium announcer Tom Healan likes to say on the point After touchdown . . . Glausier to Corbin to Kilgore made it 29 - 13 ~ Dragons with 5 minutes left. I don't think they can catch us now.

My mind began to drift toward next Friday night when the Dragons will travel up to Rossville and meet the Ridgeland Panthers. They are undefeated at 11 - 0 and are a high scoring, gound attack team that will probably be licking their chops after seeing the film of our St. Pius, Stephens County, Oconee County and this latest game. They know we can score, but they're going to go hard at us with their running game.

Can we get our run defense to the point that it needs to be to beat a highly ranked team like Ridgeland? I think we can.

What's this? . . . An announcement from Tom Healan in the press box that a "chartered bus will be available for the trip to Ridgeland next Friday night ----  Cost will be $50.00 per person." Not a bad deal,  it's a long way to Rossville, Georgia.

As I watched the team celebrate the win down on the field and gather in front of the band to sing the school alma mater, my mind went back to 2012. There was a little phrase we used as we moved through the state tournament game-by-game. "We Believe" became our rallying cry. I believe we can go into Ridgeland and  if we play up to our potential we can win that game.

As I walked out to my truck, I didn't seem to feel as cold as I had earlier in the night. Winning can do that to you. It can warm you up on a cold night, add a briskness to your step, make you smile and feel good inside. That's what I felt as I walked out of Memorial Stadium on this now cold Friday night.

Don't know about beating Ridgeland next week but I do know I'm proud to be a Jefferson Dragon.