Everyone knows that the Unifi Bowl really hits home to the people of Yadkin County, but do we really know what it feels like from a football player’s standpoint? I’m sure most people can relate to the game, from a fan’s perspective, but do we understand just how much pressure we put on our football players and cheerleaders throughout the week?
Starmount’s Britt Ashley, who plays starting left tackle, was asked about the game and how he thought they would do, saying, “We are a very strong team this year, and I can say that we have a lot of potential that our coaches are unlocking.” The line is a good mix of seniors, juniors, and a sophomore this year, and with Britt coming out of the season early, due to a broken leg, Starmount was left with a position to fill.
“I think that the Unifi Bowl is definitely a strong tradition that we want to keep going. It’s a legacy from year to year, and we have to win. It’s a lot different from a football player’s perspective because the game rides on our shoulders. We have to be the best that we can be or we let our fans down,” said the senior football player. “It’s really hard, having to sit there and watch my team, knowing that I can’t play with them. I mean, it’s my senior year, and I can’t play. I’m devastated.”
Britt Ashley (left) and Blake Ashley (right), seniors on the SHS Varsity football team, look on, knowing that Britt will not be able to participate in the big game this week | Photo courtesy of Heather Pardue
Starmount High has won the past nine consecutive Unifi Bowls, and upon asking Ashley what he thought of the Unifi event, he responded, “The Unifi Bowl is a big game, one of the biggest that we will play all year. And it’s not just a reflection on us. It’s a game we will always remember. The Starmount Alumni will tell you about their game, and most can recall it like it was yesterday… How would you want to be remembered for this game?”
From a basketball player and cheerleader’s perspective, I can say that the pressure throughout rival week will really pump a player up. The goal now is to not let the pressure overwhelm our players. Remember to cheer on your Starmount Rams, no matter what the outcome. As Mr. Hemric, says “It’s [always] a great day to be a Ram!”
But after a nine year winning streak, we plan to hit year ten on the field Friday night.
Gracee Shore is a member of the Starmount High School Journalism Club.