Two weeks ago, the football players at Elkmont High School had a choice. They could hang their heads, let negativity wash over them and just play out the last half of the football season or they could get back to work, practice hard, keep a positive attitude and try to get better.
After having lost back-to-back games by a combined score of 130-0, including a 75-0 loss to West Limestone in a county rivalry game, who could have blamed them for choosing the first option?
The team has just 32 players, with 24 of them being freshmen and sophomores. Losing consecutive games by that many points would take its toll on anybody, especially young, impressionable players whose first experience with varsity football was getting handily beaten on Friday nights.
But that's not what they did. They didn't slide into a negative spiral. They came back to practice the Monday after the West Limestone loss and they went to work. They stayed positive. They stayed together as a team. They worked hard. And they were rewarded by an emotional 16-14 victory over Lexington last Friday night.
Friday's game was also a microcosm of Elkmont's season. The Red Devils found themselves down 14-0 at halftime and 14-2 in the fourth quarter before rallying for two fourth-quarter touchdowns. They then survived a last-second Lexington field goal attempt that sailed wide right.
It's hard to imagine a team losing a game 75-0 and then turning around to win their very next game, but Elkmont did it. And the reason they did it was a determined group of young players and a coaching staff that held the team together when it had every reason to break apart.
Head coach Duane Wales deserves a lot of credit for Friday's win. It takes a special kind of person to be able to stay positive in the wake of two losses like the Red Devils suffered. But Wales kept the team going in the right direction and his players rewarded his faith in them with a victory.
We could all learn some lessons from the Elkmont football team. Too many times, when things go against us in life, we want to give up or blame somebody else for our shortcomings.
There is a quote from the 2005 movie “Batman Begins” that I like and think of in a situation like this. During a trying part in Bruce Wayne's/Batman's life, his butler Alfred asks him a rhetorical question Bruce's father would say when Bruce was a boy. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up.”
When we have failures in life, and we will, we have to pick ourselves up, learn from those failures and move on.
That is the lesson we could learn from Elkmont. The Red Devils suffered a string of failures on the football field, but instead of giving up or blaming others, they picked themselves up, went back to work and got better. And it resulted in great success.
Will Elkmont win anymore games this season? I don't know. They play in a very tough region in Class 4A, so wins in region will be difficult. However, even if they don't, they have already learned, and taught, some valuable lessons they will remember for the rest of their lives.
— Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.