A Game which MATTERS…

I have known Christopher Southerland for many years prior to his being hired to head up the Hopkinsville Middle School football program. He’s a bright guy and his heart is in the right place. However, that being said, I don’t think it was a very good idea for him to get the HMS job and be as vocal about the prior staff’s perceived deficiencies as he has been. There is an unwritten rule in coaching, which maybe should be written, that it is never a good practice to come into a job and bad-mouth your predecessor. Now, I was a member of the staff at HMS of which he was being so demonstrably critical. I was on the staff for three years. We won 23 of 31 football games, was the number one seed in Region I of the KYMSFA playoffs two years in a row, and won the Region I Championship, finishing 12-1, in 2016. We coached 9 All-Staters and 2 All-Americans, and, perhaps most importantly, went 3-1 against the cross-town rivals (played and beat them twice in 2017). Coach Jesse and I would lose our opener to Christian County Middle School 38-0, in 2015, while both members of Coach Travis Mo Lovan’s staff and, upon Jesse getting the head job in 2016, we would never again lose to the Colonels while playing them three more times.

This brings me to the reason for this particular article. As a friend of Coach Southerland, I really hope he realizes that while he has been doing backbends to pat himself on the back for beating Todd County Central Middle School, and while his staff and he did a wonderful job putting something on the field against TCCMS which resembled a football team, as opposed to what took the field in Princeton, Kentucky in the opener, he has yet to win a game which actually matters. Thursday, he will play one.

William Long, on the left, one of the two All-Americans

There is one inescapable reality, if you are a coach at either Christian County Middle or HMS, and that is you will be measured, ultimately, by how your team looks playing the other. If you win one game all year, it better be that one. If you lose only one game, it better not be that one. It is a game which matters. It isn’t Todd County, it isn’t Browning Springs, it’s the Christian County Colonels. It’s a team the staff, about whom you have been so vocally critical, beat three times in a row before riding off into the sunset. Now’s the chance to give some evidentiary support to your persistent claims of your staff and you being so vastly superior to the staff which went before, which, by the way, your statements get immediately reported to us, every time you say it. This game is the statement game. This game counts, BIG TIME. This is the PUT UP OR SHUT UP opportunity.

JT Adams with his dad

It isn’t going to be easy either. Coach Damien Leavell’s Colonels have played both Browning Springs and Owensboro Catholic and have rung up 73 points without surrendering a single one. The win against Owensboro Catholic being particularly impressive as they are considered an elite team in Middle School football circles and Browning Springs was a conference runner-up, itself, in 2017. The game is at 5:30 p.m., this Thursday, at Christian County High School’s practice field and, if you are around Hopkinsville, I would encourage you to come out and support your team. I will be there to cheer on my Tigers and to watch three players play, Jacob Beale for HMS, Damichael Hall and JT Adams for CCMS, all three of whom are listed in KPGFootball’s Top 20 players, commonwealth-wide, in the Class of 2023. JT Adams is the second highest regarded player in the Class, it’s top rated linebacker, the reigning defensive MVP of the Tennessee-Kentucky game, and a sure-fire All-American selection at the conclusion of this season, easily enjoying an All-American type year.

It’s time to bring it, Tigers. It’s time to show the progress you have made in a game which is significant. It is time to put up or shut up. Basically, it’s time. By the way, that team on the other sideline, well…that ain’t no Todd County.

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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