Written and Media by Joseph Hubbs.
The alumni game is a college and high school tradition in which older players come back and compete in an exhibition game for their alma mater. For Greenville College, an institution that places high value on community, this game is much more special because it allows past leaders of the school to bond with current and blossoming athletes as one large community timeline. This past Friday, Oct. 24, the Panthers football team hosted their annual alumni game. The “old” guys came out excited to put the pads on once again and beat the JV Panthers 18-6 in a friendly game put together by Greenville’s coaching staff. A mixture of older fellows and players one or two years removed from playing with the Panthers put together the Alumni Team this year. Several players who graduated last year made the trip back for homecoming weekend to wear the pads again. Anthony Moore, Mikey Ward, Cody Killgore, Josh Enloe, and Josh Burton all ran around the field like they could still be playing on the gridiron. Jesse Tyrell, now Greenville’s running backs coach, also put his high motor beneath the helmet again and politely knocked around the fellas he coaches. For the alumni’s defense, last year’s starting defensive end, Isaac “Django” Barber made his presence known with a sack and several tackles. Barber stated that he was mostly excited to see his buddies again, but it was also gun to compete. “When I don’t make a sack- that is when I’ll quit playing these [alumni] games.” Barber said jokingly. J.R. Harriel, linebacker who graduated in 2007, also frustrated the JV Panthers offense with his mad, Troy Polamalu hitting power. Coach DeSandro even playfully asked Harriel after the game to come play for the school if he had any eligibility left. Finally the guys running the show on offense were quarterbacks coach, Joel Lira, and Brendan Chambers, former UMAC offensive player of the year and Panthers starting quarterback for the last three years. In their careers both guys played quarterback for Greenville, so when asked how they decided who took the snaps, Chambers replied, “We went with seniority.” The two actually played alongside each other in years past, and Lira coached Chambers last year, so they have developed a bond over the years. Only one year removed from running the show, Chambers looked like he had not lost a beat. The elusive runner shifted around the JV defense for a 50 plus yard touchdown run that was called back due to a block in the back. However, Chambers, who was playing receiver at this time, still came back with a few less dazzling touchdowns in the first half. Lira also connected with Zach Friedrich, a 2010 graduate and Greenville’s only ever All American, for a touchdown pass in the first half. The JV Panthers were able to get on the board with an interception returned by freshman Dylan Massie, but playing against a Greenville All-Star club, it was tough to come back from an 18-6 halftime deficit, and that would remain the score at the end of the competition. “One of the biggest things we learn in this program is to compete your brains out.” Coach Lira said. They just tried to do what they teach their players today, and although further removed from days with the pads, they came out victorious. While the JV players would have liked to beat the older gentleman, a loss was not a devastating blow in this game. Overall it was a great chance for historic Panthers greats and current players to grow as a community and reflect on what the football program has meant to Greenville College for the last several decades.