Reflecting on Friday's big scare

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   This past Friday an accident nearly took the lives of three of my friends.
   I remember driving home that afternoon on my way to Cloudland High School for what would be the start of the high school season. When I saw a Cloudland footballer on a stretcher beside his wrecked automobile, I couldn't believe my own eyes.
   As Coach Mike Lunsford stated Friday night after the Cloudland-Hampton football game, the car was beat to pieces. There was this little thing in the back of my mind expecting the worst, but they are now okay.
   The season on the playing field might be over for two of the gentlemen, but they were given a second chance and are on the path to recovery. Sure, a lot of us feel bad that the Highlanders will be without them, but we should be thankful that they are alive.
   Broken ankles can be fixed, but you only get one life. I thank God that my friends are okay and are at home recovering with a chance of gracing the field again.
   Going into college, I know that I still have the teenage mindset of being invincible. But it is something like this that makes you realize that you are not invincible, and that you should count your blessings everyday.
   A lot of times I find myself asking the question "What If?" After the incident Friday, the Cloudland football team wasn't thinking "What If?" The team responded to what happened and pulled off an amazing performance.
   After the game, several players offered their prayers and wishes to their teammates, and signed a gameball for their friends.
   You would think that something like the incident could beat a team emotionally. I admire the Cloudland coaching staff for keeping its composure and keeping its team up through all of the events.
   A lot of decisions had to be made before the game, and nobody truly knows how much they went through preparing to replace one of their best players. I salute the Cloudland football team, its coaches, and send my thoughts and prayers to my friends.
   There is a long road left in this season, and after what I saw before and after the game in that locker room, I know exactly why I am proud to be a Highlander.
   WEEK ONE IS HERE!
   With the events of Week Zero behind us, football season has begun, and it started off with a bang. I connected with nine out of my ten picks last week, with my only losing decision coming in the Ootlewah-Red Bank matchup.
   This week there are several big games across the state, and especially in this area. I am jumping the gun on our Friday afternoon picks with a look at ten more games across the state.
   Elizabethton 28, Science Hill 16
   Happy Valley 34, Unicoi County 14
   Johnson County 32, South Greene 18
   Greeneville 40, Chuckey-Doak 10
   Maryville 32, Alcoa 6
   Greenback 38, Pigeon Forge 21
   South Pittsburg 28, Marion County 21
   Christ Presbyterian Academy 20, University School of Jackson 14
   Fairview 42, Hickman County 20
   McMinn County 30, Bradley Central 26
   WESLEY'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK: MARK BYRD, CLOUDLAND
   Byrd was the shining star against the Hampton Bulldogs this week for the Cloudland Highlanders, starting this season with a bang.
   Mark carried the ball nine times for 124 yards, and had three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
   Next week, I will begin with a separate offensive/defensive player and lineman of the week award.
   GAMES ON THE RADIO THIS WEEK:
   John Holsclaw and Dale Fair began another season at WBEJ this past Friday night, and will begin a new season of Elizabethton Cyclone football this Friday night in their game against Science Hill.
   WBEJ offers the best broadcast look of county football each and every week and will continue that this season.
   The Happy Valley-Unicoi County contest will be aired this week on WEMB-AM radio in Erwin. WEMB provides great coverage of Unicoi County and will be on tap this season.