Thru The Lens By Chuck Clegg
In basketball, they call it a slam-dunk. In bowling, it is called a 300 game. Baseball refers to it as a no hitter and in the game of golf it’s a par round. In football, I will call it 10 and 0, a perfect season for the River Pilots 2008 team.
Last August, as Coach Mike Flannery prepared for this season, the focus was on building a team. Mike returned several veteran players, but also lost some key team members from the graduated 2007 team. He knew this season some less experienced players would have to step up into starting positions. Mike also knows football games are often won by one long run or a good defensive play. Perfect seasons are achieved by hard work and dedication at every practice and in every game. His goal was to build a team that played precision football for 48 minutes at a time. Bring together a team of veterans and young players was the challenge he and his coaching staff faced through out August.
With the first win of the season, the coaching staff’s goal was to correct mistakes and move on. The second game of the season gave them direction to fine tune a few more changes. By the third game of the season, River was playing their game. That is how Coach Frye describes the team’s play at that point.
Over the next five games the Pilots refined their play and kept focusing on River’s game every time they took to the field, and it worked.
Throughout the season I would stop by practice to watch the team and coaches prepare for the next game. Always the goal was focus on your position, read the play, and react. Execute, execute, execute. Over and over they would work on different aspects of the game until it was not so much a thought process but an instinctive reaction to the other team.
By the seventh game of the season, I began to hear people say they may go all the way. Louie mentioned to me on a Monday morning not long ago, “River will win out in their regular season’s schedule. This will be a perfect season for them.” Once again Louie’s prediction came true.
When you think about a perfect season and what it took after 480 minutes of play to accomplish this goal, it is pretty incredible. There were no major injuries any player. They scored a total of 377 points to their opponents’ 51. That is a little over seven points for every one the other teams scored.
A perfect season is something every member of the team had to be thinking about at the start of Friday night’s game. Frontier had not had a good season, but they still have to be considered a rival team. The weather was dismal with a steady rain falling all evening, making the field of play slippery for both teams. Every person who has ever followed sport knows crazy things sometimes happen on a football field, especially a muddy one. Could the weather affect the games outcome? No, the Pilots, as determined as ever, played their game and won by a score of 56 to 12, capping off a perfect season.
For River fans, coaches, and players a perfect season is something special to be part of. In the future at every class reunion and gathering of alumni they will talk about the two previous perfect seasons in 1972 and 1997 and now it will include the 2008 football team. As Coach Flannery left the field in the rain, his wife and fans were there to congratulate him and the team on their win. Maybe it was rain running down Mike’s face or perhaps tears of joy as he gave his mother a long hug in the end zone. Everyone there was proud of the Pilots’ accomplishment. I am sure Mike’s dad would have been proud of his son and the team’s perfect season. My cameras were wet and a little damaged, but I am glad I did not miss that rainy evening at Flannery Field as I witnessed a prefect season Thru the Lens.