*Photo courtesy of McCook Gazette
I have a confession to make. I have long been a fan of McCook football. Well, since head man Jeff Gross has been there anyway. In my position, I should have to remain neutral at all times if I expect to be extended the courtesy of standing on the sidelines of any high school football game I attend. That is an amazing feeling and an honor I hope to never relinquish, but sometimes, being human, your emotions get to you and deeply rooted feelings emerge for a football program. There aren't very many I have secretly become attached to, but this McCook program is one I've admired for a long while.
Last weekend, two instances rocked my high school football world and negative things are not on my list during this magic time of year. First of all, I witnessed a young man, whom I had great respect for, get ejected from a game Friday night. This is a kid I have followed closely for 4 years and praised on numerous occasions. This old 1000 Yard Guy is from the old school, and to be tossed from a high school football game is at the top of the "Do Not Ever" list. Under no circumstances is this acceptable. This young man broke my heart but I'll probably get over it and hopefully he will recover, learn and play hard the last 2 games of his career. The second shock was reading the things I saw that McCook Coach Jeff Gross was quoted as saying following the Bison loss to Gering. What deeply saddened me was coach Gross being quoted as saying "Last night when we walked away from the stadium and we got back to school, we had a lot of kids walking around the locker room with smiles on their faces. It's been a long time since a kid walked away from that locker room with a smile on their face after we lost a football game. Either it ain't hurting enough or they aren't putting enough into it, and that's my job to make sure they do."
Shockwave time. Boy, did that one hit home. This is coming from a man who has an 11 year coaching record of around 113 wins and 22 losses, has coached TWO State Champions, and THREE State Runner-ups. This man and his staff of guys like John Gumb, Chad Lyons, Russ Schlager, Nick Umshied, Jeremy Yilk, and Dave Cunningham are like a Who's Who of HS Football coaching......and that's not even mentioning legends like Larry Mollring and the late/great Ron Coleman. What would prompt a man like this to utter such words? From a person that has admired this Bison program from afar, those words hit me like a load of bricks. Jeff Gross is about as sterling as they come and for a man of his status to speak words like this is a shame indeed. If I were a player on this current McCook football team, I would be wondering how I could avoid ever hearing those words again. I can imagine what was going through this man's mind. Make no mistake about it, Jeff Gross is a genius when it comes to high school football. He is not a person who would fly off the handle in the aftermath of a loss. His mind is functioning like the intelligent man he is, so you can certainly take the words he says to the bank. Despite the quotes, McCook football will probably still be in good shape, but if I'm on this current team, from here on out I play my heart out for this man and make certain I give him, the coaching staff, and the rich Bison tradition 110% every time I put the pads on. There are too many great players who came before you that molded this school and this community into one of the most respected dynasties in Class B ranks. I'm too far away to know what the smiles were about, but a loss is never a laughing matter. We are programmed to win if the program is successful. The only thing you get from a loss is a lesson on what not to repeat.
By the time this baby is online the things that bothered Jeff Gross will probably be well on their way to be remedied.......he's that efficient. But from a longtime admirer from afar of your well respected program at McCook let me make one suggestion. Do whatever Coach Gross tells you and give it every ounce of energy and passion, and desire you have. You are a part of a magic program that countless players before you have built. Let the words I read just a while ago never be uttered again by one of the best Coaches ever to set foot on a high school football field...................Go Bison.