Tiger pride ran deep Friday night at Excelsior’s home opener against the Warrensburg Tigers. Most ESHS football fans know that head coach Andy Sims had implemented the ADP, the athletic development program, his first year as coach in 2010 and by the looks of Friday’s game, the program is paying off.
To start off the home opener the football team got pumped up in the locker room, first by Sims and his pep talk, then by Excelsior’s very own Gregg Williams. Back in July, the Williams Foundation hosted the Hall of Fame Banquet at Excelsior High School and at the time ESHS football players asked Williams if he would join them at their first home game. True to his word, the NFL coach did exactly that.
“Once a Tiger, always a Tiger. I am still a Tiger and I always will be,” said Williams while he addressed the Tiger team in the high school locker room. “If I could just have one more chance, one more night to go out on that field and play one last game. Now, tonight, it’s your turn.”
Austin Woods was in the locker room and said Williams’ talk motivated all of the players, “He added on to what Coach Sims said and it made us all want to show what we could do,” Woods explained. “We wanted to show everyone that we could go out there and win. It was really cool he had this whole speech ready for us.”
Woods and Mark Ingraham, another Tiger football player, were among two of the teammates that asked Williams at the banquet to come and speak with the team prior to the first game.
“Williams was there to talk to us at halftime, too. He just kept us going, he kept us positive and focused and really motivated to win,” said Woods.
Williams lifted Tiger spirits in the locker room—he had the defensive players looking to guard every blade of grass on the field. He explained to the offensive players to simply keep control of the ball. By the time the Tigers left the locker room and between the uplifting pre-game talks from both Sims and Williams, the defensive boys weren’t about to give an inch on the line and the offense planned to gain every yard they could.
A brand new team, compared to the last two Tiger seasons, is what fans saw on Friday night. In just the first quarter the Tigers loaded up the scoreboard with a whopping 21-0 against Warrensburg, then added another 7 to the score in the second. They led into halftime with 28-0.
According to Sims the boys not only played hard, but the help from fans definitely helped. “A big thank you for the fans that were in attendance at the game Friday night. The student section was awesome,” he said.
The crowd was packed and fans were awestruck to see the Tigers open their season with a great score and an even more impressive defense. Leading the team defensively with four solo tackles was junior defensive back Bryan Bell.
Offensively the Tigers were on fire Friday night and racked up the score for the final win of 42-0 over Warrensburg. Junior running back Nick Masoner added two touchdowns to the score, one in the first quarter and one in the third.
“I was completely untouched coming through for both of my touchdowns,” said Masoner. “The team did a great job blocking for us throughout the game.”
Up next the Tigers hit the road next week to take on the Cameron Dragons. Last week Cameron took on Pembroke hill and lost their home opener by three points. Excelsior stands a great chance to win on the road next week, then will return to Tiger Stadium Sept. 7 when they take on the Richmond Spartans.
By Jae Juarez • firstname.lastname@example.org