‘We don’t surrender’Published 11:01pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Hundreds of football teams carry flags out of the locker room and on to the field of play.
Virginia Tech proudly carries Old Glory with them, the service academies fly their respective service banners during the run out and numerous schools bring their logo on a flag with them.
Charles Henderson brings a flag with them, but it isn’t just for show.
The Trojans carry a black flag with them to signify a “never-give-up attitude.”
The flag came about early in the season, when the Trojans needed “a spark of something,” and was the brainchild of defensive backs coach Sylvester Atkins.
“A while back, my best friend shared with me a story about the University of Kentucky and their black flag,” Atkins said. “They flew the flag all the time, even at practice, and it was their way of showing that they were going to fight until the end. No matter the score, they kept playing.”
In the late 1990’s Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Major and head coach Hal Mumme came up with the concept of the flag and put it to work.
While the Wildcats didn’t have much success during Major’s tenure, the Trojans have rallied around the flag.
“It a symbol of no mercy,” said Charles Henderson receiver and defensive back John Johnson. “We won’t surrender, and that flag is our way of showing everyone that we are serious.”
The right to carry the flag in to battle has to be earned.
In past weeks, Richard McBryde, Hunter Steed, Tedarion Myhand and others have carried it.
“We come together as a team and decide who gets to tote it,” Johnson said. “It is rallying point for all of us.”
Atkins said Johnson might get the nod to carry this week.
“The coaches watch film and will toss a name out here or there,” Atkins said with a grin. “John had a pretty good game last week, so it might be his night.”
Atkins, a coaching veteran of over 20 seasons and a member of the Troy’s 1984 national championship team, served as defensive coordinator for Smiths Station and Tallassee in years past.
He said it is always a good experience when you make a player smile.
“This game is so serious all the time,” Atkins said. “So anytime you can make a kid smile and have fun, it’s great. The flag is something they can get excited about and have fun at the same time. So it is a win-win.”
Charles Henderson travels to Central High School of Clay County in Lineville Friday in the third round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.