By Gary Lloyd
CLAY — Sitting with members of the Clay-Chalkville varsity football team is like sitting in a chemistry class.
Not chemistry like beakers and elements on the periodic table, but chemistry as in family, as in sticking together.
Before the question “What is the chemistry like on this team?” was completed, senior defensive back Torrence Willis jumped in.
“How we stick together,” he said.
Members of this Clay-Chalkville team work each other, push each other. Outside of Cougar Stadium and the halls at Clay-Chalkville High School, they’re always together. They don’t get tired of each other.
“There’s a lot of chemistry on our team,” said junior wide receiver T.J. Simmons.
Willis said they’re more than boys making up a team. They’re a family.
Head coach Jerry Hood said he enjoyed last year’s team, but it sometimes was frustrating due to some attitudes from time to time.
“This year’s group, they’re very hungry because we lost in the second round (to Florence), they’re a little embarrassed about that, and they had high expectations of themselves,” Hood said.
Hood called this year’s team “fun kids by nature.” He said some days the linemen have good days in the weight room when the skill players don’t. Then, on the field, the skill players will rise to the occasion.
“That’s kids,” Hood said.
There are five Cougars with scholarship offers, and it can be easy for high school players to let that go to their heads. You don’t get that sense with this team.
“I’m keeping my focus on the team right now, and I’ll worry about myself after the season,” said senior running back Terrelle West, who holds scholarship offers from about 10 schools.
Simmons, a junior and the youngest Clay-Chalkville player with scholarship offers, echoed West.
“I’m worried about playing hard for the team right now,” said Simmons, who has offers from South Alabama, Southern Mississippi and Cincinnati.
The seniors on this year’s Clay-Chalkville team have compiled a 32-4 record on the field — though that official record is 23-13 after nine wins were stripped for using an ineligible player in 2011 — but they want to go the furthest they’ve ever gone before. They want a ring.
“We stand in the way,” Willis said. “It’s all a mind thing.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.