Several minutes after Arab defeated East Limestone at home Friday night, Arab’s football players (sans pads), rushed the field from their dressing room and “attacked” head coach Lee Ozmint on the field.
It was definitely friendly fire.
Ozmint had just completed several media interviews and was still on the field talking to a large group of relatives (does any couple have more family members than Lee and Leigh Ozmint?).
Anyway, seemingly out of nowhere, here comes the happy and boisterous Knights rushing toward their equally happy coach.
Turns out, it didn’t come from out of nowhere.
“That’s our home tradition after we win,” said senior defensive end Xander Shipp. “We rush Coach Ozmint after we get our pads off.”
It’s the first time I’d personally seen it, but according to Shipp, it was the third time this season. Its origin, Shipp said, came the night Arab defeated West Point on Aug. 30. The Knights rallied from way back and won the game going away.
“It was our first home game (this season) and the first time we won in the new stadium,” Shipp said, explaining the impromtu action. When Arab beat Ardmore in perhaps its most complete game (OK, for nearly three quarters), Arab players decided they would do it again.
A tradition was born.
I think it’s fair to say their coach doesn’t mind – at all. It was Ozmint himself who was leading cheers with the players on the field, after the game, before the players’ bull rush:
“Thank God I play for Arab. Thank God I play for Arab. Thank God I play for Arab.”
This is a fun team to watch and it still has playoff aspirations at 2-2 in 5A, Region 8. The Knights are tied for fourth but unfortunately, the two teams matching the Knights are the teams that handed them their region losses – Brewer and Guntersville (see complete standings on page 2B).
It seems unfortunate that the surprise team of the region – Scottsboro – suffered its first region loss of the season to Madison County last weekend. Those teams are now tied for second at 3-1, and Arab travels to Scottsboro this Friday to take on a Wildcat team likely bent on bouncing back.
That’s OK. Arab has shown two things this season. They’ll fight anyone with all its heart, and it will compete with anyone.
The last four weeks of the regular season provide the Knights with ample opportunities, playing the top three teams in the region. It should be fun.
• Here’s the SEC TV schedule for next weekend (Oct. 19):
LSU at Mississippi State and Florida at South Carolina, 11 a.m. (ESPN), 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network) and 5 p.m. (ESPN). Kentucky at Georgia will be played at either 2:30 p.m. (SEC) or 5 p.m. (ESPN). Game times for these three games will be determined after Saturday’s games.
Also, Auburn at Arkansas (SEC), 11 a.m.; Missouri at Vanderbilt (SEC), 3 p.m.; Texas A&M at Ole Miss (SEC), 6:30 p.m.; and Tennessee at Alabama (ESPN), 8 p.m.
• Grinnell College, a Division III school in Iowa, announced last Tuesday it was forfeiting the rest of its season due to injuries. Eleven Grinnell players have sustained injuries that ended their season or kept them out of multiple games, leaving just 28 healthy players.
I know a high school coach in Scant City who would kill to have 28 players.
• In case you missed it, former Auburn star Duke Williams scored the game-winning TD in his NFL debut for the Bills in a 14-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The 7-yard scoring pass came with 9:46 left in the game.
• Bad break for Missouri. Senior linebacker Cale Garrett, who was on pace to potentially be a first-team All-America selection, is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.