Boutwell

It’s that time of year again and every school in The Southeast Sun/Daleville Sun-Courier coverage area – along with most of the schools in the surrounding area – are playoff bound again.

Of course Daleville, Enterprise and New Brockton are headed to the playoffs, but looking around the Wiregrass, Elba, Dothan, Dale County, G.W. Long, Samson, Zion Chapel, Luverne, Brantley, Andalusia and more are all getting ready for post-season play.

Even those teams that didn’t quite make the playoffs are enjoying better seasons. Kinston has the chance to double its win total from a season ago.

For those players getting a chance to continue their seasons this week, I have some advice. I don’t typically offer my opinions or advice to athletes or coaches – that’s not my job – but I implore you to enjoy this.

All of your hard work – especially for you seniors – has brought you here. Don’t think about next week, don’t think about last week and don’t even think about your weekend. Enjoy the moment and take everything in and enjoy. Savor it.

I started covering sports in this area in 2016 – though I’ve lived here almost my entire life – and as a result I’ve watched all of these young men practically grow up in front of my eyes. The best thing about covering the teams in this area, in my opinion, is they’re all great kids. If you put a gun to my head and told me to name two kids from each school that are what you would label “a bad kid” I wouldn’t be able to do it. Period. That is a wonderful thing.

The juniors and seniors on each of these teams especially are kids I’ve seen grow. I saw Josh McCray, Jalen Cunningham and LZ Leonard all get called up to the varsity team at Enterprise as freshmen and go out there and make plays when they probably should have playing against 15 year olds.

I stood and listened as former Daleville coach Rob Armstrong pointed to a skinny running back and told me, “that kid is going to be special,” and then watched as Jalen White became possibly the best running back in the history of the Wiregrass. I’ve also watched as he mesmerizes spectators weekly.

I watched as Colton Marsh was forced to start at quarterback as a freshman – because of injury – at New Brockton, and then the very next year I watched as Marsh moved to receiver and another freshman in Kaden Cupp started and broke the single season school passing record.

I’ve rode on long bus rides with the EHS basketball team – which features a number of football players – and talked with those kids and saw their passion for sports and the bond they have with one another.

I watched as players at Enterprise wanted to win so bad but lost 16 games in a two-year span, and the frustration that came with that. I saw Daleville lose a playoff game in which they had a 20-point fourth quarter lead, and I saw the pain and anguish on those players faces after.

Because of a pretty good relationship I’ve built with what I think is three excellent coaching staffs, I’ve watched as these kids killed themselves in the offseason to try and get to the postseason this year. To try and make a run at that ultimate goal of a championship.

I’m not supposed to be biased, my job is to cover the teams in our area and report the happenings typically without commentary, but if I’m being honest I am very biased right now. I want nothing more than for the kids and the coaches at all three of the schools in our coverage area to go deeper in the playoffs than they have in decades.

All of your hard work – especially for you seniors – has brought you here. Don’t think about next week, don’t think about last week and don’t even think about your weekend. Enjoy the moment and take everything in and enjoy. Savor it.

That brings me to my favorite quote that I heard Alabama coach Nick Saban recite years ago. If you take anything I said with you this Friday, remember this quote.

“What happened yesterday is history. What happens tomorrow is a mystery. What we do today makes a difference, the precious present moment.”

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