Of all the things I do as a staff writer at The Herald Independent, one I enjoy most is photographing football games. Maybe it’s because I used to play and it gets me back on the field near the action. Maybe it’s the challenge of night photography.
One perk to attending the Fairfield Central High School games is hearing what Coach David Toney will say next. The defensive coordinator for the undefeated Griffins club, Toney is a talker. And I get the feeling he would strap on those pads and play a few series if the rules allowed.
“All night, all night. We’re gonna keep this up all night!”
“Make ‘em remember coming to Fairfield. They don’t wanna come back,” said Toney one game in the first quarter as his linebackers hit hard to set the tone.
“#23, they ain’t using you right (he said to a defender). I’d throw you the ball.”
When the defensive back nodded at Toney as the opponent got ready for a kickoff return, he knew the young man was distracted. Talk about home field advantage.
But of all the many things I’ve heard him say this season, the one that stands out most is “Finish the deal.”
Finish the deal.
Fairfield Central was up by three touchdowns in the second half of its first playoff game but he and the other coaches were coaching just as hard as if the game were 0-0.
He kept telling the boys to finish the deal. That’s become a mantra of sorts for this year’s squad who came one game from finishing the deal a year ago and bringing a championship back to Winnsboro.
This year with everything they do, the focus is on getting the little things and the big things right so the team finishes the deal by hoisting a championship trophy in December.
That work ethic has rubbed off on this group and is one reason they are undefeated as the playoffs start tonight.
When things go well, you keep working hard. Keep doing things the right way and working to make your family, community and teammates proud.
The players said Toney is a players coach and they play hard for him. I could see in their eyes that they enjoyed hearing what he would say next on the sidelines, unless he was up in their grill about a missed assignment or silly penalty. He, and the other coaches, demand nothing less from these young men than their very best.
Every snap, every time.
That culture is taking root amongst those young men. So win or lose, they are already winners in the game of life. But this year I hope to be back at Benedict in December to see them finish the deal.
Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Herald Independent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.