It is getting to be playoff time for high school football teams. It is always exciting and memorable. One of my fondest memories was the first year we made the playoffs at Osceola High School.
Val Bennett was the long time principal at Osceola. He was a great principal, and one of the most loving, caring people you could ever meet. He took a chance and gave me the opportunity to be a head coach. Val loved the outdoors (fishing, hunting, etc), loved basketball, and although he did not dislike football, he just didn’t know as much about it as his other loves.
When I first called Mr. Bennett to say that I was interested in the head football coaching position that was open, his first question was, “Do you like to fish?”. When I said, “No, but if it is important for the job, I can learn”, he responded that it wasn’t a needed skill, but with their location on Truman Lake, that was a draw for many candidates. This conversation would prove to be prescient.
I was hired… my first head coaching position… and we struggled mightily the first season. But the kids, community and support were great. The next two seasons we turned it around and went 9-1 and qualified for the playoffs both seasons…. a new concept for the school.
The first year we made the playoffs our draw was Springfield Greenwood High School, coached by the legendary Paul “Moon” Mullins. The game was scheduled for Saturday afternoon on the campus of Missouri State University. I was excited, happy and proud… probably a little too much hubris.
On Monday morning of the week prior to our game I had a note in my school mailbox from Val Bennett, saying he would like for me to stop by his office later that day… he wanted to talk with me about the Playoff game on Saturday. I immediately conjured up visions of what the conversation would be about… banquet? parade? charter bus? commemorative T-shirts?
I went to Val’s office for the meeting.
He said “Well, Jeff, I wanted to talk to you about the game on Saturday”
“Yes, what about?” I responded
(yes… yes… here it comes… parade??)
“Yes, about the game. Saturday is the opening day of dear season. That is a pretty important day for a lot of father and sons… do you think the state would reschedule that game for another day?”
Deflated…. I quickly assured Val that, no, the state would not reschedule a playoff game because of dear season.
Val eventually became as excited about the playoff game as dear season, and by the next year, already had it on his calendar at the start of the year, along with the opening dear season date.
My takeaway years later:
My view of events… this included… is pretty myopic… there are other things important to people besides football… and they can all go hand in hand. It does not have to be either/ or… it can be AND.
On a side note – the quarterback of those Osceola playoff teams, Paul Carney, is back as their head coach. They are 9-1 and poised to make a run in the 1A playoffs this season. Good luck to Coach Carney and the 2013 Indians.
Thanks again to PrepsKC for running this column both online and in their weekly print magazine. If you get a chance to go and visit their site and “Like” this post, I would appreciate it!
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you.. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com