Sports Columns

September 15, 2013

Devin Golden: Four senior Indians earn more than a win

On Oct. 1, 2010, Murray County won a high school football game against Pickens. Zach Broome, Seth Gilbert, Clayton Thornbury and Jordan Walls were just freshmen.

Three years later — after all the running clocks, lopsided defeats and departing classmates — they walked off the field winners once again.

Friday night belonged to the Indians from Murray County, who won 14-12 against Gordon Central to earn their first victory since that win over Pickens.

But more than just a win or the snapping of a streak, Friday night’s game was a story of four teenagers who decided not to give up.

“They are the only seniors to stick through it the entire four years,” Indians coach Chad Brewer said. “Through all the 51-6 losses. Through three head coaches. They stuck through it all. They were very emotional after the game last night, and deservedly so. It was all I could do to hold it in and keep my composure.”

In 2010, Murray County won two games. The second was a 20-13 overtime victory against Pickens. After that, the Indians didn’t leave a football field the victors for 27 consecutive games. In 2011, Murray County was awarded two games by forfeit against Dalton and Southeast Whitfield for using an ineligible player. The scores when those games ended read, “Southeast 70, Murray County 0” and “Dalton 73, Murray County 0.”

They sure didn’t feel like wins when the clock ran out.

“No one wants to win by forfeit,” Walls said. “No, no they didn’t (feel like wins).”

In the 25 losses since the Pickens win, there were nine straight losses by more than 40 points. There were six losses by 50 or more points. Not a single margin was less than 14 points.

Broome, Gilbert, Thornbury and Walls were there through it all.

“Other people felt they had better things to do, but we wanted to play football,” Thornbury said.

Murray County has 12 seniors on this year’s roster. Those four are the only ones who started as freshmen and never left.

“We don’t have a lot of athletes in the school who are willing to play for a team with a 20-game losing streak,” Walls said. “I told everyone last year we had a D-I offensive line walking around the school. Offensive line is everything in football. ... A couple kids came out during the spring last year and looked good. One of them came out in the spring and hurt his MCL and was hurt for the first two games of the season. When he saw we were losing those games, he decided to fade out of the program. He graduated last year.

“I told the team on the way back home, it’s possible we have some people come out and get on the team now that we’ve won and have a win under our belts. I told them we need to stick with the original us. ... If you’re not going to be with us when we’re losing, then you won’t be with us when we win.”

It’s easy to stick with something when you have such a long-standing winning tradition, like at Dalton. It’s easy to stick with something when you are part of a program with five straight state championship game appearances, like at Calhoun. It’s easy to stick with something when you’re playing alongside Vonn Bell, like at Ridgeland.

It’s easy to stick with something when you have some concrete success.

For three years, those four players didn’t.

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