Sunday, August 4, 2013

Devotional: What Is On Your Game Film?

By Coach Jim Baxter

In 1974 I was twelve years old. The number one high school football team in the state was the Spartanburg Vikings. There were a lot of sports writers who had mentioned them as the top team in the country.

They started the season with wins over Gaffney, Byrnes, and Union and outscored them 134-7. After rattling off seven more wins, they finished the regular season 10-0 and outscored their opponents 595-35, giving up just 7 points by their first team defense.

This team, led by quarterback Steve Fuller (pictured left), met the Irmo Yellow Jackets in round one of the 4A state playoffs. They disposed of them easily 35-7 to advance to the second round of the playoffs to face the T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets; of course, the Vikings were heavy favorites.

My dad took me to that game; each week, he'd pick what he felt was a really good match up and we'd go to see it. It was freezing, but I didn’t care because I was going to see the “greatest high school team in the country”, the Spartanburg Vikings. What I didn't realize was that what I saw and the story that came out of the game would be able to be used in the ministry of spreading the Gospel.

The Vikings found quickly that not only were they facing tough weather, but the T.L. Hanna Yellow Jackets posed a problem as well. Each time the Vikings’ offense broke the huddle and came to the line, T.L. Hanna linebacker Clay Evans would creep up to the line of scrimmage, peer into the backfield, and then bark out signals. The result of the play was almost always the same ? no gain, or at least very little gain. It was as if the Jackets KNEW where the Vikings were going every play.

At half-time, leading only 6-0, the Vikings coaches were going wild trying to figure out how the Jackets had their number. Of course, the line was blamed; one of the "big uglies" HAD to be pointing or giving the play away. They were confused; they had no idea how it was happening but they were failing and falling in defeat to a team they had no business losing to.

In the second half, the same continued. Vikings break huddle; Evans peered over the line; barked out some signals, and the Jackets shut down the Vikings attack. The final outcome of the game? T.L. Hanna, a fourth year football program, had upset the number one team in the country by a score of 21-6.

Talking with several members of each of those teams, the story came out. Hanna had picked up on something on the game film of Spartanburg; every time the play was going to the left, Viking fullback Jerry Kelly would have the heel of his right foot up so he could launch off of his right foot. When the play was going to the right, the heel was almost flat on the ground, as he was launching off of his left foot. Evans simply looked at Kelly every play to determine where the Vikings were going to run the football.

In the Art of War by Sun Tzu (which I recommend reading), it is stated to “know your vulnerabilities and weaknesses because if you don’t, your enemy will.”

That is what happened to the 1974 Spartanburg Vikings. Their enemy ? their opponent ? picked up on a vulnerability that they didn’t even realize they had. It cost them in the form of defeat.

In our spiritual life, we have an enemy, folks. The Bible tells us in I Peter 5:8 that “your enemy, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

He is seeking…who is he seeking? “Whom he may devour.” Basically, he’s seeking those of us with vulnerabilities that would allow him to gain advantage of us.

Guys, the devil is watching our game film. He’s searching…he’s prowling…he’s analyzing the film, looking for weaknesses in our walk and our faith that he can exploit and take advantage of. It may be lack of the fundamentals (prayer, praise, word); it may be pornography; it may be our language, not just foul language but how we talk about others; it could be alcohol; infidelity; it could be any number of things he’s looking for that is a weakness in our walk.

What vulnerabilities do you have in your life that the devil could take advantage of and use to control you? What do you need to do to strengthen your walk so that those vulnerabilities are not there? God knows, I have vulnerabilities and I have to work on them each day and rely on God helping me through prayer and faith.

Don’t let the devil see any weaknesses on your film; work on your fundamentals; work on your game. Frustrate him so much that when he looks at your film, he says ‘I can’t beat this one; there are no weaknesses.’

Know your vulnerabilities so that he will not; do not let the weaknesses in your game cause you defeat.

1 comment:

  1. I was at Snyder Field that night, too--covering the game for the Anderson newspaper. I knew the back story but haven't seen it detailed as well as you have here--good work! That's a classic picture of Fuller before he was No. 4. And I especially like your spiritual application. One quibble: Hanna was not really a fourth-year school, though--the school had simply changed names in the 1960s when Anderson combined Boys High and Girls High. Anderson had been state champion in 1958, if I recall correctly. --Tom Layton, Boone NC