Valdosta Daily Times

November 20, 2013

In praise of champions

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — As we enter the next round of playoffs this weekend, some area teams have completed their seasons. Others continue.

Lowndes High School Vikings, Brooks County Trojans and Valwood Valiants all compete this weekend as they climb toward the possibility of a state championship.

While we support all of these teams, it is Brooks County that has our hearts.

Before the season’s start, the Trojans experienced a heartbreaking loss with the deaths of three players in a car wreck.

Jicarre Watkins, Shawn Waters, and Johnie Parker were killed in the July wreck, according to officials. Watkins was a rising senior, who played the line of scrimmage and wore No. 72 last season. Waters was a rising senior, who was a running back and linebacker; he wore No. 32. Parker, a rising junior, played tight-end and linebacker; he wore No. 26.

Throughout the 2013 football season, the Trojans have dedicated themselves to playing in memory of their fallen teammates.

“It took a big hold on me,” Trojans quarterback/safety Malkom Parrish told The Times earlier this week, discussing the loss of his teammates. “I didn’t know where to start from. But I see now that I have to take it each day at a time and things will get better. ...”

Football is only a game in the face of such terrible loss. But it is also a focal point to help the living continue, to keep the memories of those promising young men alive while creating new memories in their honor.

Winning the playoffs or even a championship will not bring those young men back, but these football games have provided an opportunity for a community to come together, to mourn the loss of these hometown sons, to celebrate their lives, and support those young men who remain on the field.

For their perseverance, their courage, their dignity, win or lose this weekend or in the weeks to come, the Brooks County Trojans have already exhibited the qualities that make sports great, qualities that can transcend life’s brutal defeats.

Come what may on the football field, the Brooks County Trojans are already champions.