I have several thoughts about the sights and sounds from the Brickyard last Friday night. The Bulldogs opened the season with a hard fought 16-9 victory over Elbert County in what was a pretty darned good high school football game. More about that later.
Eddie Lee Ivery was honored in an impressive pre-game ceremony in which his emotion displayed his appreciation for the honors. Mayor Bob Knox declared Friday Eddie Lee Ivery Day and the school re-retired jersey number 44.
Through it all we shouldn't forget the graciousness of Ray Guy. Like the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and unlike the Sanford family whose grandfather the University of Georgia's Sanford Stadium is named for, Ray Guy showed what class is all about. He was in wholehearted agreement that Ivery should also be rewarded a retired jersey number 44. This was the number they both wore as Thomson Bulldogs during entirely different eras.
Steadman Sanford's ancestors have openly complained that adding Vince Dooley's name to the UGA stadium and/or field would take away from Sanford's legacy. I for one feel that if his grandchildren were to agree that adding Dooley's name was the right thing to do it would only enhance the Sanford name.
Ray Guy accomplished much on the playing fields of the Brickyard and other high school venues as well as college and pro fields across the country. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment ever came Friday night and he didn't even suit up. Just by having the great attitude about sharing the retired number with Ivery, Ray Guy proved once again that his priority in life is treating people right.
The people that vote on the NFL Hall of Fame have missed the boat for years by not voting Ray Guy in. I've written in this space before that Ray Guy was a true hall of famer regardless of the stubbornness of that group. By demonstrating true unselfishness in sharing this honor, Ray Guy once again showed that he is a much better man than he was a football player. Folks, that's some man.
I hope that one day when Ryan and Amber tell their children old stories about their granddaddy, the great football player Ray Guy, they don't forget Aug. 20, 2004.
Even when Ray gets enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame, it won't outshine what for him was an anonymous moment in the Brickyard.
When the ball was kicked off the Bulldogs found themselves in quite a struggle. Elbert County was a well-coached team that had a pretty good idea what they could and could not do. In other words, they tried to execute a few things right rather than trying to draw plays in the dirt to fool Thomson. As I predict the case will be in many games this year things weren't settled until the fourth quarter. There's nothing wrong with that. The fourth quarter counts.
Thomson overcame several injuries and some strange officiating to win this game. I was even a little dismayed after the game when folks were worrying every game will be that close. We all like a laugher every now and then, but games like this prove the mettle of your team much more so than a 48-0 romp. It also helps prepare your team for region and playoff games. A close win against good competition should not feel like a loss. Winning by just a touchdown still goes in the left hand column of the ledger.
Expect more of the same this week. Washington-Wilkes has a good coaching staff, their kids will be jacked and Tiger Stadium is the place. Sitting on our hands moaning because it's close won't help either. Don't take anything away from this team's effort just because the games are tight.
This ain't 2002 over again. Yet.