An open letter to the 2014 Overton Mustangs

Men, I hate to break it to you, but your fate is sealed. Yeah, the experts all agree: the 2014 Overton Mustangs will finish “next to last” in District 11-2A competition and thus will be unable to reach the playoffs. It’s written down somewhere, so it must be true… right? Surely these people know what they’re talking about. C’mon, if Dave Campbell’s Texas Football and TheOldCoach.com’s Friday Night Football say it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. Right? Obviously they’ve done the research and looked at all the evidence to come to an objective outlook on the coming year.

Y’all might as well just put away your helmets and shoulder pads, because it’s all been decided. Overton just can’t compete with a perennial powerhouse like the Tenaha Tigers, the marauders from Maud, a resurgent Timpson program, or even Rusk County rival Mount Enterprise. Shoot, we’re gonna be lucky to even stay with Fruitvale, and they were playing six-man last year!

Just give it up! There’s no way we can beat Carlisle for the first time in nearly a decade. Considering the curb-stomping that took place in Beckville last year, maybe we should challenge them to a game of flag football instead.

“Overton? LOL! Who they got?” quip all the message-board geniuses. “They ain’t gonna do nuthin’ this year!”

Maybe they’re right. What if beating up on Ore City, All Saints, Cross Roads, and Fruitvale is the best y’all can do? That’d be a 4-win season… not bad. It might not be the playoffs but it’s better than 3 wins. Maybe four wins is the most we can hope for out of this year’s Overton Mustangs. A man should know his limitations. If four measly wins is all you can get, just bow your head and be grateful for that. It could be worse, you could be playing six-man ball (shudder).

What… you mad, bro? Feeling a little sting of pride? Don’t like what I’m saying? Can’t handle a little tough-love from cousin Matthew?

Fine… prove otherwise.

See, I don’t buy any of that, not for a minute. I don’t buy “second- to-last” and I dang sure don’t think we can’t compete in District 11-2A.

Compete? Shoot, I think y’all can win it outright! Not next year, THIS YEAR. That’s right, I said it, you CAN win every game. Every. Single. Game. Is it gonna be easy? Ha! Not even close, but nothing worthwhile is. If you’re not willing to be great, please don’t bother. Of course, by “great” I mean to play with the utmost of your ability. Not everyone is born with the same skills and talents, but anyone can do the best you can with what you have. You may not be the one who carries the ball over the goal line but you can do everything in your power to ensure that the one who does, gets there often.

Football is a team sport, a sport meant to be played with both focus as well as fervor. Talent is an important part of it, yes, but give me a team with selfless discipline over a bunch of “superstars” any day. Overton has a rich tradition of guys with precious little natural skill who played well above their capabilities. While we’ve had a few great talents come through our doors, most of the time we’ve had to make do with less. How much more, then, do those of you with great potential have something to live up to?

If this doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, something to aspire to, something that appeals to you — please, do everyone a favor, and turn in your gear. I’m serious. Just stand down, it’s better for all concerned. You won’t waste the coaches’ time in trying to teach you how to become greater than you are, and you won’t waste my time trying to put a positive spin on humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat. Wouldn’t your rather find out now that you don’t have what it takes, instead of after weeks of grueling two-a-days and a ten-game season of getting whipped up and down the field in front of friends and family? I won’t speak for the coaching staff, but I bet they don’t want any athlete in the program who is any less than 100 percent committed. As an alum and supporter, I danged sure don’t!

For the rest of you — those of you who stay — I want you to hear this: you can do it, you can win. Brothers, you can win every single game. You can beat Mount Enterprise, Beckville, Timpson, and Maud. You can beat Carlisle. Yes, you can even beat almighty Tenaha.

But it’s going to be hard, real hard… it’s going to take a level of commitment like you haven’t yet known in your young athletic careers. You’re going to have to get better every week — literally — because your schedule does. The type of effort you give in Week 1 to beat Ore City will pale in comparison to what you’re gonna need come Week 11 against the Maud Cardinals. Every single week, you’re going to have to play with a fearlessness and an abandon like no Overton team in recent years has shown. Every game, for four full quarters, you’re going to have become like beasts instead of young men. Physical. Aggressive. Willing to dish out punishment, and take some to dish out more. You’re going to have to toe a line between gamesmanship and frenzy, relying upon discipline (and the coaching staff) to keep you from going too far… but only just.

You can do this. How do I know? I just do. I know you can do this. I know you’re better than any team you’re gonna line up against this season. Why? Because our mommas are tougher and our daddies are prettier. Because our coaches have cooler haircuts. Because we’re Overton and they’re not. Choose any random reason you want, but the real reason should be: “because we want it more.”

That’s my advice to you. Ignore what the “experts” think, ignore what anyone outside the program thinks — myself included!

Remember, the only opinion that matters is yours: the 2014 Overton Mustangs.

Believe in yourselves, believe in each other, and make believers of us all.

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