Transitioning to a new season

Published 7:46 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

As the football season fades into memory, I wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank the head coaches of the Suffolk schools who helped walk me and our readers through the 2012 journey.

It is ironic that football has long been my favorite sport to watch, yet there is still much about its rules and strategy that I do not understand. Actually, my lack of complete knowledge and the opportunity to learn more about the sport are some of the reasons I enjoy watching it.

I learned more these past few months by attending the Football Academy of Glenwood Ferebee. Before and after Lakeland’s games, Coach Ferebee was patient with me, teaching me things like the difference between a go route (running straight for the end zone) and a post pattern (running straight for 15 yards and cutting inside toward the middle of the field). I was grateful for that.

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Even though I was brand new at this job, Nansemond-Suffolk head coach Lew Johnston treated me like an old friend. Coming off of 34 award-filled years as a coach at Western Branch on the big public school stage, he showed me a profound selflessness. Now he coaches for a private school that features a roster of 31 players, and he had said he seeks to win for his players rather than himself.

King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones always showed me humility and a love for his players that is reflected in how his staff coaches both the varsity and junior varsity, attending both teams’ games without fail. This showed the boys who play on Thursday night that they were just as important as the Friday night players. This year, former JV players from three years ago made Jones proud, while also making school history.

I could always count on Tracey Parker Sr., the head coach at Nansemond River, to be modest and soft spoken, and I was particularly impressed with how his players seemed like kindred spirits in this regard. Parker set a good example of humility for his team, but I also learned that this spirit could co-exist with a fearsome defense that helped give the team a legitimate shot at the playoffs this year.

Dual Roles

High school is one of the rare points in life where one can see athletes inhabit a role in one sport, sometimes a major one, and then within a month, witness them competing on a similar level in a completely different sport.

Some professionals have attempted this, and occasionally it happens at the college level, but high school is special in this regard. At this point in the year, the major focus in high school sports shifts from football to basketball.

So, while Lakeland concluded its unprecedented run on the gridiron a couple weeks ago, seniors Antonio Jefferson and Michael Piersawl, juniors Markese Wright and Marche Everett and freshman Jaquan Yulee can now be followed on the hardwood.

From the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy football squad that made it to the state championship game, junior Steven Minter and sophomore Jack Johnson will eschew a break in their athletic schedule to help power the Saints’ hoops endeavors.

Nansemond River basketball coach Ed Young welcomes juniors Marvin Branch, Marvin Pelzer and Tiron Smith along with sophomore Scott Spencer from Tracey Parker Sr.’s football team.

Lastly, juniors JaQuon Diggs and Jonathan Holloway and freshman Deshaun Wethington will try to help the King’s Fork basketball team make its mark on school history like they did with the football team.