Last Friday, the Punchers traveled to Johnson City for their matchup against the Eagles. The game began at an early 6:00 p.m. due to fears of Hurricane Ike, and it took only a short while to see how it was going to progress.
The Johnson City team is composed of mostly sophomores. They have talent, and they have spirit. However, they are very young, and they are still trying to find their footing as a team.
The Punchers did not play a perfect game and made plenty of their own mistakes; but, the Eagles seemed unable to capitalize on Mason's errors. Quite the opposite. Johnson City could do no right on Friday evening.
It could have been one of those nights when a coach decides to see just how far his team can go. Mason could have updated the records with number of points scored, and it would not have taken a great deal of effort to do so.
But, as Mason's score continued to climb and Johnson City failed to even near the goal line, I saw something that made me very proud. I saw head football coach, Russell Joy, hurting for the young players on the other side of the field. I watched him smile with pride as we would once again cross the goal for another score; but, then he would steal a look at the Johnson City players and his smile would slowly fade.
And then he made a decision to pull as far back as he could to give the Johnson City team a chance to find their footing. Our younger and less experienced players were sent on to the field, and showed that they are making great improvement. And still Johnson City had trouble pulling their game together.
So, Coach Joy made the decision to go for four plays per possession. When we reached fourth down, if we had not already scored, Mason punted the ball and gave the Eagles a chance to try some new options. And on two occasions, it worked for the beleaguered Eagles, and they were able to score.
Mason could have shut out Johnson City on Friday night. In the records, it would have shown that the Punchers kept a team from scoring, and they were able to penetrate the defense to rack up point after point.
After watching Russell Joy on Friday night, I doubt he would have slept very well if we had followed that path. He was not out for his own glory, or the glory of his team. Instead, he was a coach, watching his team do well, and knowing that there was no reason to inflict humiliation on another team.
There are other things I like and respect about Coach Joy.
At every half time, when I climb up to the announcer's booth to do the band's half time show, I feel a great sense of pride when I look back down on the field. There, among all the neatly turned out band uniforms, stand our football boys. They have shed their pads, giving up some valuable time they could be resting, to join their bandmates on the field.
You don't see this a great deal. Many schools tell their students that they must make a decision about what is most important to them, ignoring the real truth: all these things are connected.
Coach Joy does see the bigger picture, and he makes decisions based upon that view.
I congratulate Mason on having a head coach that has shown me that he has heart, patience and intelligence. Every school should be so fortunate.
It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.