The Duncan Banner
At Bray-Doyle, the attitude of four players have kept the program alive.
When the games became uncertain — a la, a mass forfeit of the rest of its schedule due to not enough players — the four seniors of Bray-Doyle (Greg Perez, Rodney Hall, Sam Henderson and Cody Matthews) had two options.
Quit, which no one would have blamed them given their 2-38 record in their careers, according to coach Lee Bluejacket. Or they could stick it out, like they had done their whole career, and show a town, coaching staff and roster full of underclassmen how to fight when the chips are down. They chose the latter.
“These boys in particular, if they would have folded and said, ‘No, we’re not going to mess with this, there’s no chance of us winning,’ those younger guys would have followed them,” Bluejacket said. “All the freshmen and sophomores have never even played a snap in high school football, and they’re getting thrown out there to the wolves... They look to the older guys.
“I can’t talk enough about how proud I am of those senior boys and those guys in particular, because it could have went drastically the other way.”
It was an eery scene as Bluejacket addressed a locker room more fitting for a basketball team. Huddled in a small semi-circle, he asked one player if he could get medically cleared to play Monday against Marlow’s junior varsity. The player said he hoped yes. That will make 12.
If not, that big 11 on the whiteboard in the conference room will remain the same. Player’s names are written on the board to keep track if the team has enough to face the next opponent. During this season, it has become commonplace for the coaches to frequently move players from the “in” and “out” columns.
When the games were cancelled on Oct. 4 after a 64-6 loss to Rush Springs, it meant the season was over. Still, Bluejacket fought to find other matchups against whoever would play.
The four seniors led that persistance on the field and, finally, they get to have senior night. Even if it will be against Marlow’s JV team, the chance to end this year on a high-note is special for Hall.
“Losing a lot of players is pretty tough,” Hall said. “It puts a lot of weight on your shoulders. You have to work a lot harder. We don’t have players to rotate in.”
Sitting in Bluejackets’ classroom watching film, there isn’t the usual scene of players tapping their helmets to come out. They knew that wasn’t an option in their 56-26 loss to Wilson. They also knew that their unaminously appointed captains, Hall and Perez, weren’t asking for a down off either.
“When it gets harder, you have to have trust in the guy next to you,” Perez said “You’re going to have to have faith that he can step up and take as much weight as you are.”
That trust the seniors have built up portrays a bright future for Bray-Doyle, according to Bluejacket. When the Donkeys make the jump to Class B next year, they will match up a lot better against their opponents, he said. With more success, Bluejacket will hope no one forgets what those seniors did to set the ground floor.
“They’re changing the enviorment of Bray-Doyle football,” Bluejacket said. “Even though they aren’t having the success this year, they started this mold. They’ve got these younger guys into ‘This is how you do it and this is how you operate the right way.’
“In a couple of years when these guys are good, I will refer back to the 2013 seniors, because they started it all.”