Squads taking the right steps to be the best they can be
While making the short drive to Alamo on Friday night, the feeling was the respective Dyersburg and Dyer County football teams would know in a few hours just where they measured up.
Both faced district opponents with winning records. Both were playing on the road. The two games would say a lot about where each program stood as the final stretch of the regular season loomed ahead.
While covering the Trojan contest from the sideline while covering the Choctaw game via radio, it appeared both squads were headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, by the end of the night, only one stood tall with a district win.
The Trojans manhandled Crockett County in the second half en rout to an impressive 27-7 win, while the Choctaws lost a 10-point lead in the final minutes to fall to undefeated Hardin County 44-40.
Despite only one local squad winning on Friday, the belief here is that both programs are headed in the right direction.
Some may ask how can Dyer County be headed there after starting 2-0 and then losing four of the next five games. Those are the people that really don't get it anyway.
There are even some out there that will question how good Dyersburg really is despite winning four straight and having an overall mark of 5-1. Those people really don't get it either.
Both programs are headed in the right direction because they both work extremely hard at getting better. They do so each and every week.
Both programs were hit hard by graduation after last season, yet both have reloaded and are just as good if not better than they were a year ago.
Those that don't get it will ask how I can say Dyer County is as good or better than a year ago when the record doesn't indicate it.
A new head coach, a new quarterback, a new running back and some new receivers are working hard at improving while playing in a classification they really shouldn't be in. When you add everything up and look at the big picture, I guarantee you the program is better off today than most may think even though it may not show in wins and losses.
At Dyersburg, the Black and Gold are back. Not only is the program back to winning games, but these kids are hungry for even more success. As of today the Trojans are 5-1. Anyone know the last time Dyersburg was 5-1 after six games? I do. The year was 2009 and it was the first for head coach Bart Stowe.
Though the team went on to lose five of its final six games to finish at 5-6 overall, this isn't 2009 and it's not the same Bart Stowe coaching the squad either.
Being honest, I've been critical of Stowe during his first couple of years at Dyersburg. I didn't think there was much discipline to the program. Too many bonehead mistakes including stupid penalties and so on and so forth. Kids acting out either at practice or on Friday night with no repercussions.
Those days appear to be over.
I think it took Stowe a while to find his way, but as of today I think he's found it. He seems more comfortable with what is going on around him and relishing in the opportunity to bring the amount of success to town that supporters have long come to expect.
I can only call it as I see it, but if you've ever believed a sentence I've written, believe this. Successful Trojan football is back and making believers out of many along the way.
No, I'm not ready to say the Trojans will be in the state championship game, but I'll guarantee you that supporters will not see the team fall like they did a few years ago.
Thank Stowe and staff for that one, but most importantly thank the kids playing the game.
Dyersburg doesn't have a star, they really don't. What they have is a team of young men overcoming the odds of losing 22 seniors off a team that finished 8-3 last season.
This team is better. They have the desire to be the best they can be. They still make mistakes, I even saw a few on Friday night. Today though, they don't make them twice or three times and so on and so on.
They're learning to be better than that. Just like at Dyer County. The Choctaws may be struggling and going through tough times finding a way to close out games, but they're talented and they're learning.
As fans of the game that's all we can ask for.
Today has simply been an opinion, as it is every week. I ask nobody to agree with any of it, but it is what I see.
My job is to support the local athletes participating in the respective programs at DHS and DCHS. Sometimes being critical is called for, but for the most part I need to appreciate their efforts.
Today, they both deserve a pat on the back.
See you on the sideline.
Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stategazette.com