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Superstitions part of pre-game

By Jeffery Armstrong

During this time of year, people usually get superstitious and follow many rituals. Since today is Halloween, people may be wary of black cats, be more careful with their hand-held mirrors and some may carry around their lucky rabbit's feet.

High school football players are no different. Several Southern Crescent athletes do certain things before going out to battle n some are merely habits, some fall in the category of superstition.

Prayer is the one thing that several players do before a game in order to get ready for it.

"I have to focus on the game and the way I do that is that I say an individual prayer before each one," said Champ Rainwater, a defensive back and wide receiver for North Clayton High. "I also don't talk to anyone n I stay in a corner and concentrate on playing well."

Two other players who believe that prayer works just before playing the game are Stockbridge High seniors Willie Copeland and T.J. Lee. Copeland, the starting quarterback, prays before he goes out of the locker room. Lee, the starting safety for Stockbridge, sits in a corner of the team locker room and prays before the game.

While prayer is a big part of most football players' pre-game rituals, several follow a certain pattern before a game because it led to good things for them.

North Clayton junior wide receiver and cornerback Dirk Engram said that if he gets his ankles taped before a game, it has to be done by North Clayton assistant coach Keith Taylor or he won't get taped.

"Coach Taylor taped me before our first game against Riverdale this year and I scored twice," said Engram, who had four catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns in that game. "That was the first time I was ever taped in my football career and I will only get taped by coach Taylor."

Stockbridge senior wide receiver Jamaal Teagle said before the team's first game this year, he mixed Red Bull energy drink and Sobe's Adrenaline Rush drink and gulped it down before the Tigers played Monroe Area. Teagle promptly went out and caught 12 balls for 112 yards in that game.

"I've been mixing those two drinks before games ever since," Teagle said.

Rainwater also straps on his shoulder pads extremely tight before putting on his jersey, a ritual he's performed ever since he had a great game during his freshman year at North Clayton.

"I like for my uniform to fit real tight on me; I feel like I have my best games when everything's tight," said Rainwater. "I also like to change the spikes in my cleats before a game."

While some players don't like to talk to people before games, Stockbridge senior linebacker Keith Simpson is just the opposite: he prefers to talk.

"I always talk with my girlfriend Jamila before going into the locker room before every game, home or away," Simpson said. "We talk about lots of stuff, but mostly about football."