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School coaches do more than coach

Friday night, thousands of eager Butler County football fans will fill the football stadiums of their respective schools to root on their teams as the second week of region play kicks off.

Fans will fight the crowds to get a good seat, strategically place their padded bleacher cushions to hold their spot and then make their way to the concession stand to grab a hot dog, nachos and soda just in time to watch the cheerleaders lead their team as they burst through the spirit sign and head to the sidelines. Coaches will be anxious, players will be nervous and the fans will be worked up into frenzies as the roads to the playoffs continue to be paved.

Butler County has a unique situation this week — Georgiana hosts McKenzie and Fort Dale Academy is at home — with each team kicking off at
7 p.m. Greenville is the only team to hit the road and will take on Valley. This should make for a great environment throughout the county Friday as the streets become packed with carloads of fans, both local and visiting, making their way to the schools. It would not be a surprise if there are several trucks backed up to our local stadiums with tailgaters grilling and enjoying fellowship before the lights come on.

Once the area’s quarterbacks take their first snaps and the defenses smash helmets with the opposing offenses, the hard work and dedication each team — players and coaching staffs — will continue to pay off as they fight for postseason play.

Will they each win?

Well, this will be tough for the Panthers and Tigers, which square off against each other in region play in the southern part of the county. However, simply being on the gridiron able to work as a team and represent your school with class is success within itself.

Many of the players on these football teams do not have father figures in their lives, aside from the football coaches instructing them from the sidelines every Friday night. The men that lead these teams do so much more than simply teach plays, oversee workouts and ensure grades are up for eligibility. For many of these student-athletes, the work ethic, respect for authority and discipline they learn on the gridiron is all they receive from an adult male. This does not only apply to football, but all the other sports young men play in high school as well.

All four head football coaches from the Butler County schools — Fort Dale Academy and Greenville, Georgiana and McKenzie high schools — have spoke to civic clubs, the media and parents prior to and throughout the first three weeks of the season. All of them spoke of the teams they will be fielding this season. They spoke about the players, shared their feelings on several of their opponents and gave insight of how they feel they will fare come November when the playoffs begin.

However, several of the coaches encouraged community members, made up of business men and women, to pray for not only the players’ safety on the field, but also as they continue to build their character. After all, they are the future of our communities.

With that said, say a prayer before Friday night’s games in hopes that your respective team soars into the playoffs this season and men of character are molded in the process. Not just this Friday night, but every Friday night.

Let’s play some football.