Belief growing for undefeated Roby Lions
Jordan Hofeditz, Abilene Reporter-News
Oct. 7, 2017http://www.reporternews.com/story/sport ... 742785001/
ROBY - Don’t tell the Roby football team that nondistrict games don’t matter.
The first five games of the season might not send the Lions (5-0) to the playoffs, but for a team that went 0-20 over the past two years, the start to the 2017 campaign is something special.
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“It’s exciting, it really is,” Roby coach Steven Grigsby said. “The community’s excited, the kids are so excited. We’re looking for (good) things to come. Game by game, play by play, down after down, (we're) just grinding it out and it’s paying off right now.”
On Friday night, it was a good, old fashioned gut check. After taking a 13-6 lead midway through the second quarter, the Lions gave up 14 consecutive points and trailed by seven with just 3:11 left in the game.
Kade Kent returned the kickoff all the way to Springlake-Earth’s 46-yard line. Caleb Helm followed with a 6-yard gain, and a 15-yard penalty moved Roby to the 25.
But the next two plays netted no yards, forcing forcing the Lions into a third-and-10 situation. Kyler Covington hit Brenden Barriere over the middle for a 15-yard gain and a first down. Kaige Covington got the Lions down to the 4-yard line, and Kyler did the rest.
“We’re going to fight,” Grigsby said. “We’re going to fight you and fight you and fight you. That (comeback) showed some resilience. Two years ago, we wouldn’t have done that. We would have laid down. But you saw the fight in the kids, they wanted it bad. They’ve got that mindset.
"Last week, we won on a tipped interception in the end zone as the buzzer goes off. This week we go down and finish with a touchdown and two-point conversion. You could see the explosion that happened from the sideline. We’ve been missing that, but now it’s here and hopefully it stays for a while.”
Down 20-19 after Kyler Covington's TD run, a decision was made that wasn’t really a decision. The option of attempting an extra point to tie, wasn't even considered, even though Jessy Villagomez had made one early in the game. Roby was going for the win.
“There wasn’t a doubt in the world that we were going to go for two right there,” Grigsby said. “We’ve been struggling kicking the ball, so the thought process was to go for two and whatever happens, happens. The kids came up big right there and made the blocks, that was the key right there.”
Kyler Covington ran in the two-point try, and the sideline erupted along with the fans in the stands. It capped off a 47-yard passing, 137-yard rushing and two-touchdown game for the junior quarterback.
“The feeling is great,” Covington said. “Like, 5-0, that’s something we haven’t done (in a long time). It’s something we’ve never experienced before after the last two years going 0-20. Now we’re 5-0. That (last drive) was a lot of pressure and we did it. I knew we could do it.”
For a team that hadn’t experienced success, the Lions are picking up quickly. The last two weeks have come down to the end, and Roby has found a way to win. That says something about the players.
“It says a lot about their character,” Grigsby said. “They never laid down. That’s all we ask of them, to play for each other and never give up. What we ask them before the game is to empty their bucket on the field. Well, they emptied their buckets (Friday night).”
Now is when things get interesting. The District 4-2A Division II schedule begins next week, and the Lions get welcomed with a trip to Roscoe. And it doesn’t really get any easier from there.
The Roby players know they aren’t going to be favored to win much the rest of the year, let alone make the playoffs, but they think they can.
“We have to believe it,” Grigsby said. “We’re the only ones who are going to believe it. I just think that we have one of the toughest districts in the state with Roscoe and Hamlin and Plains, Tahoka, Seagraves. That’s a tough district to go into, but we’re going to fight them. If they overlook us, maybe we’ll sneak up and bite them a little bit. We’re planning on going in and preparing and going hard. That’s all we can do.”
Going from a team that hadn’t won a game in two years to a 5-0 start, that doesn’t just happen. The Lions are building some belief. And if they aren’t going to get it anywhere else, they’ve got it for themselves and each other.
“We’ve got about six kids that never won a game until this year,” Grigsby said. “Now they’ve won five. What it says is they’re going to keep fighting for each other. They’re going to keep fighting to get where they want to get to because they want some respect. They feel like they haven’t gotten any respect in a long time, so they’re ready to go. They’re ready to eat, as they say. They’re hungry.”