By Larry Rubama
© August 27, 2012
Oscar Smith defensive end Kanyia Anderson called Saturday’s nationally-televised game against Byrnes High – USA Today’s No. 5 program in the nation – a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s a big game,” he said earlier last week, “and we have to show up.”
But the Tigers didn’t show up and they lost 42-21 in the third annual ESPN High School Football Kickoff.
It was their third consecutive season-opening loss to a nationally-ranked program. It also was their first home loss since the Group AAA Division 6 state semifinals in 2007 and first regular-season home loss since 2006.
Oscar Smith’s frustration was apparent throughout the game, especially in the third quarter when the Tigers trailed by two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Deshawn McClease turned to the sideline and told his teammates, “We’re not playing Oscar Smith football.”
He was right. The Tigers, who came into the game ranked 17th nationally by USA Today, were reacting to what the visitors from Duncan, S.C., did instead of initiating the action like they normally do. They weren’t swarming to the ball on defense and had too many turnovers on offense.
“It’s frustrating to know that we knew we were prepared for this game, but mentally we weren’t ready,” McClease said after the game. “I mean, everything was laid out right in front of us. All we had to do is go out and do what coach said, and we didn’t.
"It seemed like we just threw it all away and forgot about everything the coaches taught us.”
Other players agreed. They said coach Richard Morgan and his staff had the perfect game plan, but they didn’t execute. “We didn’t give our best,” said senior receiver/linebacker Melvin Vaughn. “Coach told us exactly what we needed to do for the game, but people were doing their own stuff.”
Added senior Zack Jones: “Coach basically told us that the opportunity was there, but we let it slip away.”
Oscar Smith will have time to think about the loss. The Tigers won’t play again until Sept. 7 at Great Bridge.
Many of the players said they will use Saturday’s loss as motivation, just as they did last season when Gilman beat Oscar Smith 51-27. The Tigers went on to win 14 straight games and captured the Group AAA Division 6 state title.
“The same thing can happen again,” McClease said.
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