Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Hurricane season has been a ride


December 6, 2018

I remember years ago when T.R. Miller was either winning state championships, losing in championship games or being just so close to making the big game.

Then Coach Jamie Riggs said while winning a state title is always great, it was the path the team took to get there that is the most rewarding.

He told me that for some reason the pressure was off once you got to championship game. If I remember those conversations correctly, Riggs pointed out that during the regular season there are those pressure-packed moments – win get in, lose go home. He said the goal of all coaches is to get to the playoffs.

He also said there is more pressure in the early playoff games than in the championship game; basically repeating what he had said about some of the regular season games. Once you get to the playoffs it's game by game: win and you'll play next week, lose your season is over. He said he felt the pressure went down once you made it to the title game because win or lose it's the last game of the season and it's the last time most of the seniors will ever put on a football uniform.

While he said it was disappointing to lose a championship game, it didn't hurt as much as either not making the playoffs for getting knocked out and not having a chance to play in that game. He said losing a playoff game leaves a lot of that 'what if' thinking in coaches' and players' minds. Losing those games hurt longer than losing in the championship game because you always wonder what could have happened on the biggest stage of high school football if only you had that chance. Not getting that chance hurts more.

What Riggs was saying, I think, is once you get to the state title game you've accomplished a lot of goals. While losing such a game hurts, the hurt goes away quicker because you can reflect on the great journey that got you there. It's the journey that's fun, the championship game is the icing on the cake.

For the past 16 weeks I've sat down with Flomaton head coach Doug Vickery, usually on a Monday and Tuesday, after a Friday night football game.

There have been highs and some lows. Vickery, like most coaches I know, still find things that need to be worked on and improved, even following a big win.

Flomaton's journey to the state championship game has been one for the ages. Some of us have forgotten but if Flomaton had lost to T.R. Miller on Oct. 26 the Hurricanes would not have made it to the playoffs. They would have finished fifth in the region instead of second and would have been on the outside looking in with a lot of 'what ifs' bouncing around inside heads.

Over the year we've talked a lot about the resiliency of this team and it's no-quit attitude and how the players have overcome obstacles to move forward. Looking from the outside, I say it has everything to do with the chemistry on the Flomaton football team. One guy goes down, another one steps up; kind of 'I got your back' mentality that has brought this unit together.

Flomaton could have folded the tent against T.R. Miller when starting quarterback Daquan Johnson suffered a concussion right before the half and was unable to play in the second half.

I've seen teams fold when things don't go just right. I watched a Flomaton team about to go down when Pike County got deep into Flomaton territory late in the fourth quarter to see the defense step up. I then witnessed a Flomaton offense bleed the final 5:33 off the clock to secure the win. That drive really summed up the 2018 Hurricanes. There were penalties that cost yardage and a penalty that cost Flomaton a touchdown. But when they needed the yards to move the chains and move the clock they responded. One slip, once not converting on fourth down, one fumble and the season would have been over. There was a lot of adversity during that drive, but the Hurricanes overcame that adversity like they've done all year.

While most of the hearts in Flomaton came close to stopping this past Friday night when Providence Christian lined up for a 27-yard field goal to deny the Hurricanes a shot at the title, it was only fitting for Flomaton to win by showing that resiliency and no quit attitude.

While I hope I get to take the picture of Flomaton hoisting the state championship trophy this afternoon in Flomaton it's been a remarkable and historic run that will live forever.


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