Jack­ets hold Thanks­giv­ing prac­tice be­fore Jef­fer­son win

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Lorene Parker loren­[email protected]

Rock­mart foot­ball alumni mem­bers showed their sup­port for the Jack­ets last Thurs­day at the team’s last prac­tice be­fore they faced the Jef­fer­son County War­riors.

Jacket foot­ball play­ers from pre­vi­ous years were in­vited to wear their Let­ter­man jack­ets and watch the cur­rent high school team as they pre­pared for the third round of state play­offs.

Over 60 alumni mem­bers met at 9 a.m. on Thanks­giv­ing Day to meet the team and show their sup­port.

Af­ter watch­ing the Jack­ets run through the mo­tions of prac­tice one last time be­fore the big away game, past grad­u­ates were asked to give words of mo­ti­va­tion and en­cour­age­ment to the team.

“You can see this wall of broth­ers stand­ing be­hind you. We sup­port you guys and we’ve prayed for this day to come,” Den­zel Dar­den told the team. “It makes us proud to watch you be­cause we feel like you guys are play­ing for us. You’re play­ing for what we couldn’t fin­ish,” he added.

Alumni mem­bers not only got to see the team per­form, but also ex­pe­ri­enced a re­union with their past team­mates and shared their foot­ball mem­o­ries.

“You guys have a lot in com­mon with the team I played with. The 1989 team was un­de­feated, went into the play­offs, and was ranked num­ber two in the state,” Polk County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber Chris Cul­ver told the Jack­ets.

Play­ers from re­cent years also share their flash­backs and mo­ti­va­tion, es­pe­cially be­cause they played on the same field with many of the 2018 team mem­bers.

“The Class of 2017 is dif­fer­ent than the other classes that have spo­ken. We played with y’all. We set an ex­am­ple for you guys,” Blake Hol­lo­man said.

Head coach Biff Par­son was sur­prised with the large turnout of alumni and was thank­ful for their sup­port.

“Three years ago when I started this pro­gram, I told the sopho­mores who are now se­niors, about the vi­sion of chang­ing the com­mu­nity. ‘You’re go­ing to change the way peo­ple think about foot­ball here at Rock­mart,’ I said. And this is what they’ve cre­ated in three years. That’s some­thing to be pride­ful of,” Par­son said.

The event gave the com­mu­nity a chance to show its pride for the foot­ball team.

“We were ex­cited to be able to put this black and gold back on,” Dar­den said. “We bleed black and gold no mat­ter where we go. We can move out of state or across the coun­try and we will still bleed black and gold. That’s why when Coach Par­son put out a call ask­ing for the alumni to show up, we were pulling out our jack­ets and throw­ing the spi­der webs off,” he added.

Thurs­day’s prac­tice was es­pe­cially great for alumni who coached and trained the boys when they played at a younger age.

“We talked about this mo­ment when they were five and six years old be­cause we knew they had the tal­ent,” William Hud­son Jr. said.

The en­cour­age­ment and mo­ti­va­tion was cer­tainly an im­pact on the Yel­low Jack­ets as they pre­pared for the 3-plus hour road trip to Louisville the fol­low­ing day. It made some im­pact, as the Jack­ets came home vic­tors over Jef­fer­son County with a 48-13 fin­ish and will host this Fri­day against the Call­away Cava­liers as the lone team un­de­feated in Class AA.

Lorene Parker

Above: Head coach Biff Par­son talks to the team dur­ing a Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing prac­tice at Rock­mart High School. The team were joined by alumni who spoke words of en­cour­age­ment to the topranked Jack­ets. Left: Play­ers stayed in hel­mets but kept the pads off for a Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing prac­tice ahead of their big trip to Jef­fer­son County for the third round of the play­offs.

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