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What Really Matters by Dan O’Neal

SAWMILLS, NC (November 17, 2017)…Under normal circumstances, depending upon how you define the term, any sports team who completes a regular season with a 1-10 record is not likely to qualify for a playoff berth. With the manner in which the North Carolina High School Athletic Association designs the school classifications and with the way conference wins and losses determine one’s playoff as opposed to overall records, there is absolutely nothing normal here.

Hence, what really matters is that South Caldwell, by virtue of being one of the two Class 4A schools in the Northwestern 4A/3A Conference and by defeating the other 4A school, McDowell, combined with McDowell losing their season finale to Freedom, the Spartans not only made the Small 4A playoffs. They also were the number two seeded team in the Western Region and received a first round bye….with a 1-10 record. Whereas all conferences are required to be represented and South earning their right with their lone victory, what really matters is that they did what they had to do to qualify for the berth. Though it makes no sense to most high school pundits, this other team shoulda, coulda, woulda really does not matter. Until the powers that be make changes to the present system, there is the likelihood of 1-10, 2-9 teams making the state playoffs.

What really matters is that Spartans head coach Marc Kirkpatrick and his staff have poured themselves out like drink offerings to prepare these young athletes for every game this past season. What really matters is that these coaches and athletes did not give a flying flip about what others thought about their being in the state playoffs. These guys came out every game to play football, regardless of the circumstances. Tonight, was no different.

What really matters is that even though their opponent, the Hickory Ridge High Raging Bulls from Harrisburg, NC (located in Cabarrus County) came off a convincing first round win over West Charlotte, the Spartans were determined to shock the football world with hopes of an upset. Though this did not happen as South lost 55-28, this 1-10 squad played all four quarters with NO continuous clock and even managed to put up twenty-eight points on the Raging Bulls. I seriously doubt that their coach Jason Seidel was amused by the Spartans scoring prowess and what a joy to see sophomore Spencer Piercy (he hasn’t even started Drivers Education yet sports fans) return a pick-six of Raging Bulls quarterback Dylan Ratliff for fifty-four yards to the house just before halftime.

What really matters is that both squads and coaching staffs took this game seriously. What really matters is that both schools were well represented by their fan support. What really matters is that these young players like Jason Martin, Austin Raynor, Samuel Craig, Avery Raynor, Gavin Nash and Piercy spoke very highly of the senior class’ legacy and they greatly desire to build upon that in the seasons to come. “Chip on their shoulders” is what these guys referred to as well as 2018 is going to be our year. Speaking of Avery Raynor, he gained eight-five yards on ten touches and senior Harley Sullivan completed his final high school football game with seventy-four yards on twelve carries and two touchdowns. The Spartans other score was a Martin twenty-six-yard pass to Nash near the end of the game.

What really matters is the Spartan Regiment did not disappoint with pre-game and halftime performances. What really matters is that the JROTC was always disciplined and reverent when presenting the colors at home games. What really matters is the way the Cheer Squad always managed to generate great enthusiasm with their voices as well as their routines. What really matters is the way senior Nate Monroe, regardless of his season ending shoulder injury, was present on the sidelines for every game giving much encouragement to his teammates. What really matters is the family and humorous atmosphere in the Spartan Stadium Press Box. For every football season, I like to refer to the press box crew as getting the band back together. The cuisine is wonderful as well courtesy of Mrs. Hobbs and Mrs. Parham. Yes, highly abnormal that a 1-10 football team got to continue their season for more game. What really matters is that we all had a great time regardless of the situation therefore, I’m with abnormal,lol. With that, Happy Thanksgiving!

Other thoughts: Our love and prayers go up for the family of former West Rowan Football Coach Scott Young, who recently passed away due to complications from his heart transplant. Your legacy will be fondly remembered.

Kudos to the Major League Baseball writers for selecting Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton as the respected American and National League Most Valuable players for the 2017 season. These selections, in my view, was a no-brainer. And though I have never been a Dodgers fan, Clayton Kershaw got majorly hosed not being chosen for the National League Cy Young Award, just saying!

Best wishes to the Hibriten Panthers as they face Franklin High School on “Black Friday”!