Letters to the editor for November 1, 2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Editor,

I have been watching with interest the showing of Two-A-Days, an MTV documentary of the Hoover Bucs 2005 Championship season, and until recently, had found the series entertaining. This episode included locker room talk about how Oak Mountain players had expressed overconfidence and cockiness before the semi-final state playoff game with Hoover.

My son was a senior linebacker on the &8216;05 Oak Mountain Eagles and a three-year starter in the football program. I was a booster and attended every varsity practice and game. At no time over these years did I see or hear from the Oak Mountain players, coaches or parents any arrogance or disrespect directed toward any opposing player, coach or fan.

The week of preparation for the semi-final game was mixed with excitement, a touch of awe, fatigue and a sense of the end of a magical experience &8212;never overconfidence, nor anything but respect for the Hoover team.

At Oak Mountain we began our fifth year in existence at the 6A level with no great expectations from anyone outside the team, coaches and a few close following parents. Our practice field, for the first time, was covered almost entirely with grass, thanks to the unpaid overtime work of the coaching staff, led by a second year head coach still feeling his way around his new responsibilities.

Our weight room was a small, make-do area behind the fold up bleachers in the gym. In the hallways of the new county high school were no pictures of championship teams or all-staters from the past.

We had no tradition, no town, not many victories and the booster club had just made possible a visitor locker room at our off campus stadium.

Quickly into the season some of us sensed something special might just be unfolding: this team started believing they could win. Yes, even against Hoover.

With no accomplished school history to insure them, no evidence that they were good enough, they found inspiration in wanting Oak Mountain to rise to another level. They weren&8217;t denied, as their final 10-4 record and appearance in the state semi-finals attests. Neither did they lack football players or coaching.

Today an Eagle off the 2005 team is a member of the college teams at Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Samford, and West Georgia. The seniors led and were supported by a special, talented group of underclassmen. Our green head coach earned Birmingham Metro Coach of the Year and our defensive coordinator was awarded the state&8217;s most valuable assistant coach in 6A.

Our season wasn&8217;t one made for TV, nevertheless, the Oak Mountain Eagles of 2005, in achieving so much, validated their trust in each other and justified their sacrifices by breaking the barriers of doubt and limitation while doing it with pure class.

The seniors that reported to practice in August left the Hoover Met one late November Friday night no longer our little boys. We were going to lose them anyway &8212; such is life.

As they transformed into men, they left for us this sweet season, their eternal gift of thanks.

We waited for them outside the dressing room until they all boarded the school bus one last time. Some of us stood around looking strangely, suddenly misplaced, then strolled to our cars in silence. And for those of us who knew them and their story, will forever call them champions.

Mike Ray