Safety in United States still a concern for Trojan players

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2001

Sports Editor

Appalachian State knocked Troy State out of the Division 1-AA playoffs last season in the opening round, so it’s safe to say that TSU football players wanted a little revenge on Saturday.

However, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. earlier in the week, caused the postponement of college football games on Saturday. While many of the games may be able to be rescheduled at a later date, it appears that this past weekend’s Trojans vs. Mountaineers contest will be lost for the season.

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The terrorists that stole the lives of so many American citizens last Tuesday, also stole the Trojans’ opportunity for redemption against the Mountaineers.

But Troy State players know that in situations like what happened last week whether or not to play football is, altogether, an unimportant issue.

"We all wanted them," said sophomore wide receiver Chad Lucas about the App State game. "But considering what happened, we’re not robbed of anything. We’re lucky it didn’t happen down here. All I can do is send my condolences to the people up there, pray, and get ready for this week."

Junior defensive back Deiric Jackson said he and his teammates were just "anxious" to get on the field against anybody this past weekend, especially following the Trojans’ 54-17 loss to Middle Tennessee.

"We didn’t have a good showing (against MTS) and were ready to come out and put that loss behind us. We wanted to take out some of our frustrations against App State," he said. "But we understand that what happened this past week was a tragedy for the country and we understood why the game was postponed. We’re just ready to get back to playing football."

Head coach Larry Blakeney hopes his team realizes that being able to come together and play a game like football is a privilege for all involved.

"I’m hoping our kids are excited about playing. Sometimes when you take something away, you realize what it means to you," Blakeney said. "If nothing else, maybe our kids realize that everything is not guaranteed. I just hope our guys come in here today excited about who they are, where they are and what they’re doing."

Offensive coordinator John Shannon said "it’s hard to

keep a football team focused during a time of national emergency.

"It’s tough," he said. "There’s a lot of talk on TV and radio and about a draft, so it is very hard to keep a 17 to 25 year old kid focused on preparing for a football game. You just have to put it all behind you when you walk on the field."

It was three hijacked commercial airlines which brought down the two World Trade Center towers and crashed into the Pentagon last Tuesday. Troy State University charters planes for the football team on long road trips.

Still, both Lucas and Jackson say they’ll never feel completely safe wherever they go.

"It opens your eyes," said Jackson. "There’s still some doubts in the back of our minds, especially about traveling on planes. We’re not too keen on flying right now, but the coaches are pretty confident and sure about the measure of travel that we go by, so I feel relatively safe."

"You never know what’s going to happen," said Lucas. "Really, I don’t want to fly to anymore games, but we probably will."