Sunday, December 16, 2018

North star

Whenever I want one of the teams I'm pulling for to win, I use a device that's probably about 50 percent effective.

It's called force of will.

I used it both in 1980 and in 2008 to help the Phillies win the World Series. I used it last year to help the Eagles win the Super Bowl. I used it again last year (it was a busy year in Philadelphia) to help Villanova win the NCAA men's basketball championship.

But my force of will – which when pulling for a sports team is something that probably more resembles me straining with my fists clenched and my eyes popping – doesn't always work.

It didn't work when I was on press row covering the West Davidson boys' bid for a basketball title in 1984; it didn't work when the Lexington American Legion baseball team tried to win a state title in Cherryville about a decade ago.

Like I said, my force of will is a 50-50 proposition. When it works, I'm a genius. When it doesn't, I'm a fool who might as well rely on rolling dice and rubbing chicken bones.

I tried using force of will to help North Davidson win a 2-AA state football championship against legendary football factory Shelby yesterday. But when Shelby intercepted a pass in the red zone against the driving Knights and returned it 90-plus yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead in the first period, everything changed.

Before I could blink my eyes, the Knights were down three touchdowns and forced to play catch-up the rest of the way. Against a formidable team like Shelby, you don't want to be playing catch-up.

North eventually lost 42-21. I felt deflated. My force of will had failed.

The game was aired on WMYV-TV, which is how I viewed the game, and I have to say, it was a very professional broadcast. There was slo-mo instant replay, solid commentary, and intriguing close-ups. That's pretty impressive television coverage for high school football.

When I cover North for The Dispatch, I usually sit in the elevated press box behind the Knights, so I don't get to see coach Brian Flynn working his team other than his striding up and down the sideline with his clipboard tucked into his pants.

But on television, there were some wonderful shots of him sending out signals to his team.

There was one where he brought gripping hands to his eyes, as if he were using binoculars. I don't know what that means – maybe he was calling for a pass and binoculars would help him see further downfield.

Then there was one that looked like he was blowing kisses. Or maybe blowing dust off his hands. I don't know what that means.

There was a kind of "hang five" signal with both hands, although there wasn't a Hawaiian shirt or surfboard in sight. I don't know what that means.

And then, later in the game, I saw him jumping up and down waving his arms, which is usually universal for "look at me," but in this case, I don't know what it means. Maybe he was exhorting his force of will.

I like Brian. I remember when he played quarterback at Central Davidson years ago. He's a personable young man and a clever, innovative football coach who knows how to use the talented players he has on the field. North is lucky to have him. I have a feeling there's going to be plenty more postseasons for the Knights in the future.

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