COLUMN: An Xs and Os rain delay in Spencer

As soon as the first lighting bolt forked across the sky Friday night at Roane County’s County Stadium I thought, “Oh boy … This game could take a while.” As an already steady rain became stronger by the minute and thunder boomed overhead late in the first quarter, the chances steadily increased of a shrill whistle signaling a storm delay.

Sure enough the ultimately deadline-shattering wail rang out at the 7:33 mark of the second quarter, with the host Raiders up on St. Marys 14-3.

Roane cruelly waiting longer to snap a 13-game losing streak 28-17.

Players, coaches, fans and media members were guaranteed a 30-minute break in the action. A timer renewing after each additional strike.

Scrambling for shelter was a priority, but not my first one. I informed the guys at the office on what transpired then looked for somewhere to wait out the storm. For those wondering why a member of the press wasn’t in the press box, I usually never sit there as great photography comes from field-level.

Fortunately, Raider head coach Paul Burdette didn’t object to my presence in the locker room. “At least I will be dry and don’t have to scramble to my car or risk injury climbing slippery stairs to the pressbox,” I thought. “I can check on other scores around the state and start my story.”

A brief education in Raider football wasn’t expected. Players and coaches talked strategy as soon as shoulder pads and jerseys hit the floor. Everyone aware of the wishful thinking of just a 30-minute delay. The radar looked bad.

I listened intently as the Raider lineman and quarterback Danny Bush conveyed their game observations to the coaching staff then received feedback. My mind raced at every recall attempt from every play mentioned aloud, any thoughts of starting a story pushed from my mind.

This was fun.

Instead, I jotted down every thought going through my mind for this column.

Game planning and lingo aren’t in my job description. I usually see the end product. Being a nerd, sports or otherwise, I was engrossed in events I am never privy to any other time.

(I probably could be if I asked, with no intent to repeat what I heard or saw until after the following game).

Burdette turned his hat backwards and called for a grease board after the 10-minute exchange with his players. If there are any fans who think these teenagers don’t take the game seriously, you are sorely mistaken.

All 22 eyes of the starting offense glued to each marker stroke upon the white background. Linemen conferred with line coach Tom Hardman, while skill players directed queries toward Burdette.

The streak ended tonight.

I am confident the same thing transpired in the Blue Devils’ locker room, but I wasn’t swimming to the other side of the field to confirm.

Swim season doesn’t start until December after all.

The coaching continued for another half-an-hour until Burdette was summoned for a discussion on the continuation of the contest.

I understood enough to know what to look for when play resumed but some terms were foreign.

Luckily offensive lineman Michael Starkey, who recorded the streak-busting sack of Brennan Boron with 16.7 seconds left, engaged me in conversation shortly after the strategy session.

He answered a few of my questions so I knew what to look for when play resumed. I seriously doubted my retaining capabilities with all this excitement. I shouldn’t have worried …. I easily read plays when the game resumed after an hour-and-a-half delay.

Adding another level of enjoyment to what could have been a rough night.

Who would have thought a rain delay could have been so enjoyable or educational?

Not me.

Contact Joe Albright at