By Matt Mauney | Associate Editor
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what you have in life and a chance to spend some quality time with family.
With the Durant football team’s win over Tampa Bay Tech last week, the Cougars season continues and ensures at least one more game this Friday.
That means practice all week — early in the morning when schools are out for fall break. There will even be practice on Thanksgiving Day.
But the players and coaches wouldn’t want it any other way.
After all, the meaning and purpose of Thanksgiving applies just as strongly to the Durant football program as it does from a personal standpoint for each player and coach.
That’s because this Cougars team is a family — in every sense of the word. Being around them all season, I’ve seen it first-hand. Cliches such as “brotherhood” and “family” are thrown around a lot in sports, but with Durant, it’s reality. It doesn’t take long to notice the players truly depend on one another. They all get along and support one another — something you don’t always see with teams full of teenagers. But, it’s also essential for a team looking to win a championship.
That’s exactly where the Cougars are, and they wouldn’t want to be in this situation without the guy to their left and right.
After the TBT win, you could see the joy on the players’ faces. They weren’t thinking about morning practices on non-school days or having to shuffle around any Thanksgiving plans.
Head coach Mike Gottman announced Monday’s practice time that night with the team circled together, down on one knee — film was to begin at 8:30 a.m.
Another thing was announced after that win. The team will have a full turkey dinner together on Thursday. Several players let out cheers and happy grunts — that meant more food — something that always intrigues football players.
This time last year, the season was over for Durant, after losing in the regional quarterfinals. Players moved on to video games or winter sports, and Thanksgiving was spent with their families.
The players are happy that this year is different. Going 10-0 in the regular season has seemed to build an even stronger bond with this team. Although many of the coaches say there wasn’t pressure to prove Durant’s mettle going into last week’s game, many of the players will beg to differ.
“Every team all season wanted to beat us,” said Dontriel Perry. “There was a lot of pressure.”
With the first playoff win in the books, the Cougars are as confident and focused as ever.
Being around the team more so than usual the last few weeks, the one thing that I hear the most is how the team constantly feels doubted. Players point to regional media that regularly underestimate the Cougars. Even Gottman brought it up during the post-game interview last week.
“The headlines are going to read ‘Durant slips by TBT,’ but (we won) 34-7, so maybe something new will come up this week,” he said. “We try to get respect every week and our kids play hard, so they deserve it.”
And they do. I like to think we at the Plant City Observer have done a good job showing them that respect, so hopefully, those comments aren’t being directed at us.
The truth is, the Cougars are flying under the radar, and I think they kind of like it that way. They are slowly getting the respect they deserve, but that seems to be helping fuel the fire of this blue-collar gridiron team.
That has their confidence at an all-time high and, according to assistant coach and head JV coach Rich Maddock, the team is hoping to celebrate more than just Thanksgiving together.
“We have a gift exchange planned Dec. 13,” he said.
That day will be the day before the Class 7A state championship.) 53.” >http://adres77.ru/bistro-zaem-v-moskve.php