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By JAMES LINE
Special to The Trimble Banner
The Trimble County High School football team started off its 2012 season more determined than ever after a disappointing loss at Berea High School, 38 - 0, on Friday, August 18.
Prior to the game, a few Raiders felt somewhat intimidated by the physical size of the Berea players. The pre-game mood was serious and tense as Trimble prepared mentally for an uphill battle.
“Be professional,” said Head Coach Justin Franklin, Friday being his first game as head coach for Trimble County. “We have to win out here,” he said, making a historical comparison to the 16th century Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes, who told his soldiers to burn the boats that had transported them to the New World.
Freshman player Robert Harris had dispelled any notions of nervousness. “I’m ready to play and ready to win,” he said.
Just before heading onto the field, senior quarterback Kyle Sparks felt “pumped” for the first game of his last season. “I’m just going to leave it all on the field and play every play like it’s the last.”
Those words proved ironic: the game opened to a rough start for the Raiders when senior quarterback Kyle Sparks suffered several arm fractures in the first play of the first quarter.
Berea seized on the opportunity and pushed the Raiders to their end zone, earning the first touchdown and two point conversion of the game. Trying to hold the middle of the field, the Raider offense lost the ball to Berea, and the home team gained another touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion.
In the second quarter, Trimble strengthened on defense and held back repeated advances by the Pirates. Despite strong plays from Raider athletes, Berea scored another touchdown and an additional two points.
Trying for a touchdown themselves, the Raiders’ offensive efforts were continuously blunted by the onslaught of Pirates. Possession of the ball swapped back and forth several times before Trimble began to put Berea on its heels at the end of the first half.
At halftime, Franklin said, “We’re going to do what we can.” Franklin gave a short halftime talk to the players, encouraging them to not give up hope. “Be creative,” he said. “Keep your heads up. Let’s go hard this half.”
The start of the second half took the Trimble County offense close to Berea’s end zone. Regaining lost ground, the Pirates advanced forward and captured still another touchdown. By the end of the third quarter, both teams locked themselves together in the middle of the field. In the last quarter of the game, Berea scored another touchdown and two-point conversion.
Driving hard, the relationship between the teams grew noticeably bitter and personal as Trimble watched the clock count down beside an unchanging guest score.
Rallying the Raider team after the game, Franklin made efforts to lift the players’ spirits. “Inevitably, you face a crisis, and you have to know how to respond,” he reminded them. “Every one of you played great tonight. Keep your heads up and we’ll get better this week.”