"If you ain't practicing football on Turkey Day, then you didn't do something right," York coach Bobby Carroll said Wednesday morning.
He came home to York with designs on turning the Cougars' program around. He carefully chose his staff, which helped him set goals for a team whose seniors had never had a winning season.
"To go 2-8, that's unacceptable," he said. "I didn't know how much turning around we could do in a season, but we did a lot. We've won 10 games. We're playing Friday at South Pointe for a spot in the state championship.
"When we told them the goals, one was to still be playing on Turkey Day, Thanksgiving. It's the greatest day in the world."
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The feelings are the same at South Pointe, where Strait Herron has his team 12-1 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAA. Herron, named Class AAA's Upper State Coach of the Year by the S.C. Football Coaches Association, was promoted after Carroll left for York.
"It's going to be exciting," York defensive back Corey Dover said. "The coaches have been telling us it's the best day to practice all year, because of what's on the line."
"I think mom's going to be all right with it. She said as long as I'm only out here for an hour or so, and back by lunch, she's OK with it."
Herron is a straight-forward type guy. He saw plenty of Turkey Day practices when he played for and coached with Carroll at Northwestern. And he saw some lean years as an assistant at Clover when the Blue Eagles were trying to rebuild.
"Those years when we were finished, I'd go to an area school on Thanksgiving Day and watch practice," he said. "Here at South Pointe, were are playing for a chance to get to the state for the fourth time in six years. It feels good to see other coaches show up to watch us."
The Stallions went 15-0 and beat Northwestern in just their third varsity season. The were knocked out Thanksgiving Friday by Northwestern the following season, but were moved down to Class AAA last year and made it back.
Both teams practiced Wednesday and will have walk-throughs this morning before being sent home to be with their families. Herron told his players after Wednesday's practice that he'd better not hear that any of them went home and sat around alone on Thanksgiving Day.
"I told them if that happened, to let me know and they could come eat with us," he said. "We don't want any of our players not having a good meal.
"And one player," he said with a laugh," told us there was no way he was practicing on Thanksgiving. He's a freshman we brought up for the playoffs. One of our coaches pulled him aside and straightened him out. He'll be here."
Eating, or eating too much, is a concern for Dover. He said it's going to be hard pushing away from the table. Dover said he can't wait to eat "grandma's honey ham," but wants to make sure he doesn't get weighted down.
"There's a chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy, so I don't want too much of that," he said. "We've got to be wide awake."
"Wide awake" might not be in the cards for South Pointe running back Brandon Barber. He plans to hold back today, with hopes of leftovers still around on Saturday.
"My favorite is the honey ham," he said, "but we'll have a turkey too. I'm going to be conservative; don't want to wake up the day of the game with a bellyache. Gotta be right on game day.
"But my aunt, she makes the best red velvet cake you ever ate. I might just sneak down to the kitchen and get some when everybody is asleep."