Its the Veterans Day holiday and the football practice field at Houston County High School is vacant. Too soon.
A season of possibility -- a season that included an opening-day win against a Harris County team that went on to win Region 1-AAAAA -- turned sour in week four with a road loss at Grovetown. That game backed Houston County into an early corner, and the Bears could not claw their way into the post-season. As a result, the empty practice field appeared all the more desolate because of the activity still ongoing at playoff-bound schools across the state.
Quarterback Taylor Boyett sought solace in the schools gym. On Nov. 9, he and his gridiron teammates took the long bus ride home from Evans, contemplating a 3-7 season. Two days later, Boyett and a few others traded cleats for sneakers.
The ideal thing would be to take a little break, Boyett said after his initial hoops workout. Remnants of the football season lingered. His movements on the court were quick but heavy, as though favoring an injury or at least acknowledging pain. A bit of a shiner colored his right eye. But taking a break is not going to help your teammates.
One can tell Boyett is early in the transition from football to basketball. During a 5-on-5 drill, he called for the ball at the top of the key. Open, he let fly with a 3-point attempt. Air ball. On the other hand, he excelled at finding the open man.
Passing is not the hard part of the game, he said.
For Boyett, that certainly seems to be the case. Hes coming off a season in which he set a Houston County program record for passing yardage in a season. His final total of 1,588 yards ended up 200 better than Broade Edge, who played four more games in 1993. Boyett completed 59.7 percent of his pass attempts, also a school record. All that despite playing most of the season with a partially separated shoulder and suffering a concussion Oct. 5 against Northside.
If he duplicates those numbers as a senior, hell finish as Houston Countys top passing quarterback of all-time. And by the way, he ran for 12 touchdowns this year as well.
Obviously, its a great feeling to know youre part of a high-achieving club, Boyett said. But when you look at the record, it kind of doesnt mean anything (if you dont make the playoffs).
Boyett should have a good chance next season. The team graduates just three offensive starters, and a crop of more than 30 rising sophomores, including Boyetts younger brother Zach, will improve the Bears depth.
It starts with the off-season workouts, Boyett said. As a team, weve got to get bigger and stronger and more physical.
Football is as much a part of the modern Thanksgiving Day celebration as turkey and the Macys Parade. Consider this a friendly reminder that there are a lot of people who work really hard during the holiday to provide us with entertainment (at the professional level) and help foster a sense of community (at the college and high school levels).
Hundreds of high school coaches throughout Georgia will spend more time on Thursday breaking down film than breaking wishbones. Granted, its what theyre groomed for. Those coaches who arent busy on Thanksgiving wish they were. Still, while many of us wade through a tryptophan-induced stupor, local coaches will be putting the finishing touches on Fridays game plan. Thank you.
Contact Chris Deighan at firstname.lastname@example.org.