Last Saturday, Bessemer City High School's head football coach, Larry Boone, was going through the middle of town when he noticed something he says he had not seen since the mid-1990s.
“Places had ‘Go Jackets' on windows and people were talking about the team. It put a smile on my face that the town and school are getting excited.”
What they are getting excited about is a Bessemer City team that started the season 2-1. While that may not seem like much, they have not had a start even close to that in Boone's four years as head coach, and only a handful in his 14 at the school.
Plus, they have been impressive in their victories.
After losing their opener 21-6 to R-S Central, Bessemer City defeated North Gaston and Forest City Chase by a combined score of 75-0. Before this season the Yellow Jackets had produced just one shutout victory since 2003.
But this is a different team. Bessemer City returned eight starters on defense and nine on offense. They struggled in an opening loss to R-S Central, but that changed against North Gaston.
The offense rushed for 349 yards, with Aaron Rainey scoring three times. Ironically, the last time the Yellow Jackets had scored that many points was also in 2003 (a 60-0 win over Crossroads Charter).
As good as the offense was, the defense might have been better, holding last year's 3A state runners-up to 93 total yards and forcing four turnovers.
Against Chase Rainey, who is being recruited by N.C. Central University and Winston-Salem State among others, would score three more touchdowns, and the Yellow Jackets forced five turnovers en route to the win.
“Our defense is not big,” Boone said, “but they all can run. Every time there's a tackle made it seems that there are at least five or six helmets at the ball.”
Another little incentive for the Yellow Jackets is Boone. The head coach told his team that each week if they win, they would choose something that he has to do.
After the North Gaston win, Boone arrived at school wearing a pink bandana. This past Monday (after beating Chase), Boone shaved half of his mustache and goatee off.
While Boone is as excited as the team and the community with the team's early success, he won't let them get ahead of themselves.
“When we go through film I'll praise 'em for good things they did during the game. But once that's behind us, we've got a new mission each week.”