Back row: James Granson - Dr. Eddie Lineberger Co-Best Blocker; Davis Ray - Bobby Brown Co-Unsung Hero Award; Connor Owensby - Dr. Eddie Lineberger Co-Best Blocker; Matthew Mellette - Bobby Brown Co-Unsung Hero Award; Jacob Justice - Gerald Cortner Character, Leadership and Scholarship Award.
Front row: Victor Hernandez - JV Co-Offensive Player of the Year; Diontrea King - Dr. Wade Breeland Co-MVP; Ryland Etherton - Dr. Wade Breeland Co-MVP; Nolan Wilson - Bennie Cunningham Co-Most Improved Player; Scottie Lee - Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Not pictured: Ometrick Leeper - Offensive Scout Team Player
Picture Identification: L-R
Back row: JT Starr - Yates and Marie Abernathy Sportsmanship Award; Nick Muse - Sheila Rollins Most Versatile Player; Tyler Hall - Belmont Drug Best Defensive Player
Front row: Mike Hayes - Bennie Cunningham Co- Most Improved; Riley Nichols - JV Defensive Player of the Year; Sean Burns - Defensive Scout team Player
Picture Identification: L-R
Back row: JT Starr, Nick Muse, Connor Owensby, Matt Mellette
Front row: Nolan Wilson, Diontrea King, Ryland Etherton, Tyler Hall, James Granson
The BEST Team
December 13, 2015
It is customary in life to endeavor to "learn" from mistakes, whether our own or the failures of others. In sports, a similar practice is in place whereby teams venture to learn from losses. Yet it seems almost a useless routine after falling short in the final game of a season. It feels as if there is no tomorrow and thus there could be no point in trying to learn from the loss. Maybe though, there is a worthwhile lesson to understand, or at least an important thought to be considered following the championship game.
We have often heard, and perhaps ourselves have uttered the adage "may the best team win." The phrase is generally expressed by nonparticipants, those with and without vested interest in the outcome of a contest. In fact, last Friday night as fans from both teams passed near Kenan Stadium on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, among the pleasantries exchanged including, "good luck", "looking forward to a great game", and "congratulations on a fine season", was heard the phrase "may the 'best' team win." Unfortunately, that accolade is intended to be measured according to the number of points on a scoreboard. That seems to be all that matters and yet if determination, heart, and character - the foundation upon which a true TEAM is built - were included in the measurement, then there is no doubt that the "best" team left the field with broken hearts last Friday night.
From the first summer practice sessions, South Point Red Raiders teams could usually be judged according to talent and a preliminary, realistic expectation of success could be formed. All have been expected to achieve lofty goals that include championships, and all have had to work for the accomplishments. Some just seem destined for the greatness while others could have easily gone in a different direction. This year's squad was no different in that they were expected to carry on the proud tradition of South Point football and they met that challenge head on with a spirit and intensity that marked their heart and character. But this team was different from those in the past as the level of improvement was so evident with each game. Make no mistake; former Red Raiders teams have made great strides in the caliber of football they played from game one throughout. But sometimes the magnitude of a contest seemed to create a sense of desperation and this would cause a return of early season errors. The 2015 South Point Red Raiders never looked back. Rather with each passing game they seemed to run faster, hit harder, jump higher, and always seemed able to control their destiny. These Red Raiders returned the Big South 3A/2A Conference Championship trophy to its rightful trophy case! They fought as hard through the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs as had any South Point team in the past and they brought home to Belmont the Western Regional Championship hardware to prove themselves worthy to be called champions. This year's TEAM, led by seniors Diontrea King, Nolan Wilson, JT Starr, Ryland Etherton, Mike Hayes, Tyler Hall, and Toby Stapel, displayed more determination on the field than did any opponent. This year's TEAM led by seniors Ben Washam, Walker Featherston, Camden Hale, Vageli Mageras, John Steele, Herman Gregory, and Alex Hoppe, displayed more heart on the field than did any team in the conference. And this year's TEAM led by seniors Davis Ray, Jon Ledford, Matt Mellette, Isaiah Carter, Connor Owenby, Jacob Justice, and AJ Alverson, displayed more character than did any program in the state.
A loss in a season's final game causes a pain that is described as devastating. But devastation would be the mark of a program that does not return to greatness. Failing to accomplish the highest goal seems to bring about an end in which there is no tomorrow. But tomorrow will come for the Red Raiders and those on this season's roster will always be counted as an important part of future success. The scoreboard in Chapel Hill last Friday night simply marked, according to point total, the school that was fortunate enough to take home a championship trophy. The "BEST" TEAM left the field disappointed, but with Raider pride that will soon mend the broken hearts!
Congratulations Red Raiders on an outstanding season! Thank you Red Raiders for keeping us Raider proud! And thank you coaches for your unwavering dedication to building and maintaining a program that has no equal! The result of your labor is evident in the remarkable character and exceptional team attitude that our Raider players will carry throughout life. Proud to be a Red Raider, proud to be a part of RaiderNation!
Go Get 'Em, Red!
Notable Facts and Thoughts
If effort was tangible, there is no question that following the championship game in Chapel Hill, none could be found in the Raiders locker room, on the buses, or in the parking lot at South Point. The reason? The Red Raiders left it ALL on the field in the championship game.
Losses are painful and some more so due to the magnitude of the game. In a sense, we are blessed that it hurts to lose. It means that we are fully vested in the program and we expect to win. This is by far better than simply running onto the field and hoping for the best. No regrets and no pride lost among the Red Raiders and RaiderNation!