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Please play with passion

By Jeffery Armstrong

Last Friday, I saw something that disturbed me at Twelve Oaks Stadium. I covered the football game between the Morrow Mustangs and the Warner Robins Demons, in which Morrow got trounced 42-12. The Mustangs had an opportunity to score early, but an interception halted a drive. Penalties and mistakes by Morrow allowed for more Demons scores throughout the game.

The 42-12 debacle was the THIRD time this season the Mustangs have allowed 40 or more points in a game. I was there for another shellacking, a 42-7 Saturday loss to Riverdale. The other smackdown was a 47-0 loss to Mt. Zion. The Mustangs have scored only 19 points in four games and head coach Dorwyn Lyles wasn't pleased with his group after the Warner Robins game.

While most coaches huddle with their teams after the games to give them the usual post-game speech, Lyles dismissed his team straight to the locker room. As I interviewed him on the way to the locker room, he said that his team needs to play with more emotion and effort from the start or these kinds of games will keep on happening.

That's not cool.

It's one thing for a team to lose games. But to lose games without putting forth the maximum amount of effort is inexcusable. Now, today's high school athletes face a lot more pressures than back when I was in high school in the 80's. I am sure school work is harder now, more kids may have to work to support families and some kids may have worse family structures these days. The world is also much different than it was back then. You never know if some wacko is going to come to school with a gun and shoot everybody and international terrorism is a real threat to society.

But if you're playing sports, high school athletes, please play with some passion. A coach calling out players for not coming out with fire is really bad. Can it get any better for Morrow? I don't know if it can. High schoolers aren't getting paid n they truly don't have to hustle or work hard to ensure a spot on the team. If they decide not to play hard, a coach can bench players, but the others who'll replace them may not be good enough to lead the team to victory.

Sports has always been a release for me. You can use sports to get rid of aggravation on the court or field. All of Morrow's opponents should look like the science teacher who sprang a pop quiz on them the other day. Or they should pretend their opponents have chewed them out for the umpteenth time about not washing the dishes (like all Moms do) and hit them just a bit harder.

I remember playing pickup basketball at the YMCA in Houston and a friend of mine used to tell me how much he enjoyed the games. Not only for the camaraderie of playing with the guys, but also it was a way to relieve tension. He liked the confrontations, the fouls, all that stuff.

"I can't hit my wife or my boss but I can get aggressive with you guys on the basketball court," he used to say.

Morrow football players need to heed that advice.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the News Daily and Daily Herald and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.