The unexpected can be shocking and have lingering effects.
The emotion of losing a teammate the week before Lewisville's 2010 season-opener against York caught everyone involved off guard. Tailback Brian Colvin, a well-liked and talented senior, passed out during a jamboree in Chester and died in an ambulance from heart complications before he arrived at the hospital.
It was difficult, especially from the football side knowing a team leader, who was well respected, was gone. The scrimmage was against Westminster Catawba, whose coach, Dan Devine, said his team will wear Colvin's No. 3 on their jerseys "forever."
York athletic director Steve Boyd spent the majority of his career coaching and is well aware of how emotions impact sports. His Cougars were scheduled to host the Lions the following Friday in the first game ever played in York's new stadium. Then second-year Lions coach, Marvin Burke, said Boyd called and offered to postpone the game and reschedule it because each team had the same open date on their schedule.
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It was a classy gesture, one that Lewisville accepted. The Lions opened the next Friday at Chester and suffered a crushing 52-6 loss on their way to a woeful 2-8 season.
"Moving the game was something the people at York felt they needed to do and they made the call,'' Burke said. "Our kids will never forget Brian; will carry him in their hearts forever. The biggest thing is not that we lost a football players. It's that we lost a good kid who everybody liked; a friend.
"I really believe that our kids never got over it last year. They have had a year to mourn our loss and I believe our kids will use the unfortunate situation for internal motivation. It was a major setback, as it would be for any team. You expect 15- and 16-year-old kids to handle it the way they did. They said they are playing for Brian this season and things are finally getting back to normal.''
Yes, last year's team was loaded with underclassmen and was very young at nearly every position. But those players got a year of experience, albeit under adverse conditions, and 10 starters are back on offense and six on defense.
"With 10 starters back on offense, we feel good about that side of the ball,'' said Omar Talford, a senior fullback/linebacker. "The entire front line is back; stronger and experienced.
"We don't really have a motto but we know what we have to do to turn it around. We have to make a good showing in our first game, keep improving, continue to stay close as a team and play hard every down."
For years the Lions were the team to beat in Class A, a strong one that opponents in the classification knew they had to beat to make it to the state championship. Through the years, Lewisville sent William Strong, Mike Barber and Sheldon Brown to the NFL. Scores of others earned football scholarships.
But times have been tough. Burke has had to deal with tons of adversity since he took over. This year, he believes the return to the glory days could be on the horizon.
This year the York game will be played as scheduled. It's at 7:30 p.m. today at Lewisville.
"The puzzle has been formed and we will see what the faces look like when we put it together,'' Burke said. "With 10 players back on offense, the question we have is at quarterback. I wouldn't say it's a competition, but we have two kids we believe can be successful.
"Quay Walls is our passer. He's 5-9. Tony Gaston gives us a bigger presence and is 6-0. Both can play the position, but we have to settle on which one. Both are good athletes and the one who doesn't play quarterback will start somewhere else.''
The physical part of the game is in place. It appears that so is the emotional part. But tonight's season opener against York has incentive for both teams.
Lewisville wants to wipe out the memories of last season and get down to business. York has a new coach, native son Bobby Carroll, and the Cougars are about to burst with enthusiasm that he left South Pointe, where he won a state championship and coached in another, in just five seasons of varsity football. Carroll's task is similar to Burke's: Return his team to the winning column and earn respect.
And any coach worth his salt will tell you emotion is a big part of football. It can make the difference between winning or losing. So tonight's game in Richburg should be a good one.
Junior linebacker Daquan Evans has the internal motivation Burke is looking for. So has the other players, Evans said.
"This is what I've been waiting for since last year; to get the season off to a good start,'' he said. "There is as much enthusiasm that I've ever seen. We have just one player to replace on offense, just five on defense. We believe we can turn our program around.
"We are playing the season for Brian. He's up there watching us, and we want to make him proud. The only good thing that came out of what happened, and Brian would want it, is because of him we still have the bond he created here. Brian was about team.''