This is the year

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 04:36 AM

It’s that time again. The week that Chase football fans have simultaneously looked forward to and dreaded for almost 12 months, is here. That’s right, the Shelby game.

The question on everyone’s mind in the hamlets of Caroleen, Harris- Henrietta, Avondale, Shiloh and Everywhere else (CHASE) is, “Will this be the year that Chase beats Shelby?”

The short answer is, yes.

I know I join the legion of sports writers who make similar predictions each season, but most of them live in Chicago and cover the Cubs. They have been beating the “This is our year” drum since 1908. Take heart Trojan fans, it won’t take more than 105 years for Chase to beat Shelby. I think it will happen tomorrow.

Heck, I’m so confident, I’ll even give you the final score, 23-21.

Why am I going out on such a limb? After all, if Chase beats Shelby, it might very well be the first sign of the apocalypse.

My belief that the Trojans will pull the upset is not so much based on X’s and O’s, but a change in attitude.

In previous seasons, Chase has treated Cleveland County programs like they are the Mount Olympus of high school football, with the gods descending to the gridiron each week accompanied by lightning flashes and peels of thunder.

That’s an imposing picture for any team to face and most years Chase has lost the game before stepping on the field. It’s almost as if the “S” on the helmet belongs to Superman not Shelby.

This season coach Daniel Bailey has a better approach.

Instead of focusing on the elephant…err, I mean Golden Lion in the room, his only focus is making the Trojans better each day in practice.

It’s the same principle I use going up a hill on a handcycle. I don’t look at the top of the hill. It is too daunting. Instead, I focus on the stretch of road directly in front of me. That’s what the Trojans are doing by focusing on each day of practice. By breaking the challenge down into small parts, I have no doubt Chase will climb this hill.  

Another reason Chase will win tomorrow, is that Shelby is focused on not losing the game.

According to sports editor and Shelby alum, Travis Durkee, most of the Shelby faithful are not even aware of the streak. The only mention of it is that nobody wants to be the first team to lose to Chase.

Admittedly, that can be a powerful motivator, but playing not to lose is also dangerous. I’ve seen plenty of games where such a strategy backfires, and I’m hoping to hear the bang and see the smoke all the way in Avondale where I will be covering the Thomas Jefferson game.

The third and final reason Chase will beat Shelby is belief. The players have been working toward this goal since the beginning of optional workouts this year. As Jordan O’Rourke put it early in Chase’s camp, “We are going to get them this year.”

Maybe it’s one last gasp of youthful idealism or maybe it’s because I recently watched Angels in the Outfield, but I believe it too.

For those who have not seen the movie, a young orphan prays that his favorite team will win the pennant and they do with a little bit of help from the Heavenly Hosts and a whole lot of teamwork. It may take an army of angels, prayers, or some other form of Devine intervention for Chase to beat Shelby. But as JP says in the movie, “Hey, it could happen.” No wait. Let me rephrase that. It will happen.