‘It will be epic!’
It was a spur of the moment idea and plans were made. My high school alma mater, Dobyns-Bennett High School of Kingsport, Tenn., has recorded the most high school football victories in the history of Tennessee. D-B has also garnered the most state football championships.
The legendary coach, Bobby Dodd, (as in “Bobby Dodd Stadium” at Georgia Tech) was a D-B graduate (1940) and legendary football player. I played offensive center during the 1966, 1967, and 1968 seasons. I was not legendary.
Over in the next county, Science Hill High School of Johnson City, Tenn., also has a rich and winning tradition. Coach Steve Spurrier (former coach at Florida and current coach at South Carolina) graduated from SHHS. The rivalry between the two schools has always been fierce.
This season, both schools destroyed their competition on their way to identical 9-0 records. On a Friday night a few weeks ago, the schools would meet for the last regular season game in a battle of the unbeatens. On the line were the conference championship, the district championship, and a favorable seed in the state playoffs. My two older sons and I decided to go to the game.
Both Jason and John played high school football and Jason played in college. However, I was certain that neither had seen a game like the one about to be played.
After a six-hour drive, we got a room and headed to the stadium. Kingsport’s J. Fred Johnson Memorial Stadium was built in the 1930s and seats 8,000 in this town of just over 48,000. The stadium has been updated and modernized and the team plays on artificial turf.
We arrived at 4:30 p.m. and, already the ticket lines contained hundreds. We stood in line, purchased our tickets, and entered the stadium and claimed our seats for the game that wouldn’t start for three hours.
By game time, 13,000 rabid fans packed the stadium. D-B’s 375-member marching band, assisted by the SHHS band, played the National Anthem. The roar that began with the kick-off continued until game’s end.
D-B scored and then scored again, building up a 13-0 lead. Science Hill roared back and, at the half, SHHS led 27-19. In the third quarter, Science Hill scored again and led 34-19.
Jason said, “If D-B can come back from this, it will be epic!”
D-B scored to cut the Science Hill lead to 34-26. In the fourth quarter, D-B tied it up at 34-34. With 17.7 seconds left in the game, Dobyns-Bennett kicked a field goal to win the game 37-34 and the celebration exploded in the home stands.
On the way home the next day, after breakfast with my wife’s family, I sat in the back seat and dozed. During the drive I heard the boys talking about the game and realized that, long after I am gone, they will remember and continue to talk about this weekend.
There are games and then there are games. It wasn’t just a high school game ... it was an event shared by a dad and two adult sons.
It was the sharing of time and life and it was the making of memories that may never fade. It was more than just a great weekend.
It was ... epic!
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may contacted at email@example.com.