By Scott Mees, The Southern
Sunday, August 30, 2009 12:52 AM CDT
VIENNA - It was big day for the Vienna-Goreville football team Saturday as it played its first varsity game in 78 years.
There was a first time for everything, and coach Mike Rude got to experience some nerve-wracking moments in the opening game of the season.
The Eagles led Hamilton County by a touchdown, and the Foxes couldn't connect on a 36-yard passing play in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. That potential score would've tied the game with a two-point conversion.
But the clock was stopped with less than a second left on the scoreboard. Rude glared up at the press box and had a look on his face like he couldn't believe what he'd just witnessed.
Hamilton County received one last chance and tied the game on the final play of regulation to send the contest to overtime.
"I said I was in church last Sunday and it didn't do me any good," Rude said with a grin on what was going through his mind as the Foxes scored as time expired. "I made sure I was there last Sunday, and I thought, well maybe He realized I was just there last Sunday to see if I could get a favor, and I wasn't."
As the Vienna-Goreville fans swarmed the field after the squad's 30-28 overtime victory, Rude got down on one knee and just soaked it all in from the sideline.
"The kids made it worth it today," Rude said. "I wouldn't trade this win for any one I've had. I don't know if I've had a more enjoyable win."
It was obviously a special day for the players as well. They'd been anticipating this contest for quite some time. Senior Reedus Maynor, a 235-pound fullback, rumbled five yards in the opening quarter to score the first-ever touchdown for the Vienna-Goreville team.
"It was amazing and such an adrenaline rush," said Maynor, who also delivered the final touchdown run of the game. "I was excited all night and only got about four hours of sleep so I was dead tired out there."
Maynor helped send Rude to his 190th victory of his Hall of Fame career. Rude last coached varsity football at Johnston City in 2006.
"He's the best coach to ever live," Maynor said of playing for Rude. "He can be tough but he explains things so well to all of us. He's just an amazing coach and he's like another father to me."
It was also a very busy week for Vienna athletic director Ross Hill. It was his first time supervising a varsity football game and things went really well for the most part. The scoreboard, which was powered by a generator, and goal posts were just installed in the last few weeks.
"I just felt like with a school our size we needed more sports than what we had," Hill said. "Some kids can't play those other skill sports so this creates so many more opportunities for all the kids."
A lot of schools starting up a varsity football program would probably land an inexperienced, young coach just looking to get his feet wet. Hill believes the Eagles were lucky to attract a coach of Rude's caliber.
"The whole key to everything is having a Hall of Fame coach," Hill said. "Just the ability to be competitive is going to keep people coming back. He just lives and breathes football, and we couldn't have done it without him."
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