confessions

The preacher was quickly whipping his congregation into a frenzy. “Tell it all brother, tell it all!” was his message. Time and again, he used the phrase to persuade his parishioners to admit their sins and failings to the world and be released from the burden of those shortcomings. “Tell it all brother, tell it all!” he continued to shout. Slowly the audience began to respond. A sad looking man stood and said to the crowd, “I have gambled away my family’s rent money,” and the preacher responded, “Tell it all brother, tell it all!” From another pew a man admitted that his drunkenness had ruined his life. “Tell it all brother, tell it all!” was once more the response. The admissions continued until a haggard looking man in the back stood up and admitted to an act so unspeakably shocking that the entire church went immediately silent and the parson, in obvious distress said, “Dang brother, I don’t believe I’d have told that!”

Of course, that’s an old joke, but it goes to our point for today. I have decided to make my own disclosures that in some cases have never been told to another living soul, and in other cases, have been known by only a select few who have been blackmailed into secrecy. So here and now, I will confess and attempt to lighten the burden these acts have placed upon me over the ensuing years. As part of this, I offer a disclaimer as well. If any of these admissions are (or have ever been) considered criminal acts, they are a feeble attempt on my part to brag or bring attention to myself and are totally false.

So here goes. I hope this does not have the effect of getting me into trouble when all I’m trying to do is clear the air and get it off my chest.

I most sheepishly admit that as a youngster there was a small but fiendishly devious group of boys who would wrap a piece of clear double-sided tape around our fingers before entering church services. When the collection plate was passed around, we would slyly bring the tape in contact with a coin in the plate (preferably a quarter, or if we were lucky, a half dollar) and lift it coolly out with a closed hand. This supplemental income enabled us to go to the drug store that week and have a milkshake (on the house, so to speak). I wonder if the old preacher would have said “Tell it all” to that. I know what mama would say.

I also now admit to all of you and the fans of Morgan County football that once when I was the coach, our team found itself in a tight game against Oconee County. We had driven to the four-yard line with time running out. A field goal would win the contest but kicking even a short field goal was extremely risky business for us (we couldn’t kick it in the ocean from the beach). I considered all our options. It was fourth down. I decided to line up for a field goal try and draw our opponents off-sides with a hard-snap count. If successful, we would then go for the touchdown from the two-yard line rather than kick a field goal. I gathered the boys in our huddle and explained the plan. “Under no circumstances,” I forcefully told them, “are we to snap the football.” Once the snap count reached five, they were to call time out and we’d go from there if Oconee didn’t jump. The guys trotted onto the field with my instructions and we snapped the ball on the first sound. Our astonished holder had the presence of mind to put the ball down on the tee and our equally dumbfounded kicker automatically took a whack at it. The ball split the uprights and we won the game thus cementing my reputation as a coach known for sound judgment and disciplined players. Our entire staff has been sworn to secrecy, and based on how the play evolved, I assume our players never knew the difference.

There are other admissions to make. As a youngster still in college, I broke all physical laws of nature by simultaneously knocking both tires on one side of my Ford Mustang completely off their moorings. Though still hazy about how and why that took place, I do recall that after inspecting the damage, I astutely evaluated the situation. Since there was only one spare tire available, and needing two, I abandoned the crippled vehicle and headed out on foot to the next party.

There’s more. I now freely admit that I once made a “D” in a course entitled “Community Recreation.” It was an honest mistake. I did not think I had to show up for the class. My assumption was that if I went out in the community and had fun every day, I would gain accolades from the professor and earn a sterling grade. I learned too late that was not the case and I spent a lot of hours trying to get that grade expunged from the record. It’s still, however, on my transcript for all to see.

The sad saga continues. While driving to Covington one dark dreary night, I ran over a stupid bull that was standing right in the middle of the road. In reprisal the big ugly beast irreparably tore up daddy’s car and added insult to injury by voiding his bowels all over the side. I tried to salvage the situation by loading him into the trunk, but his weight was more than I could handle.

In hindsight, I think the old preacher was right. I probably shouldn’t have told any of this – it will probably tarnish my good reputation beyond repair. Perhaps the statute of limitations has run out on most of these deeds and I won’t face jail time.

(Send your admissions of guilt to dar8589@bellsouth.net / I won’t tell.)

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Alvin Richardson
After thirty-six years in education as a teacher, coach, and administrator, Alvin Richardson writes weekly outdoor articles and humor columns for the Morgan County Citizen, the Statesboro Herald, Greensboro Herald, and the Milledgeville Union-Recorder. A native of Rutledge, Georgia, he served as head football coach, athletic director and assistant principal for Morgan County High School. After retirement, he served as principal at the Morgan County Crossroads School for Alternative Education. Coach Richardson’s long history with football began at Cook High School under former Moultrie Coach Bud Willis and went on to work under the legendary coach Larry Campbell at Lincoln County High School. Richardson writes for Georgia Outdoor News magazine and the Georgia Gridiron Guide. He is author of It’s a Dawg’s Life, a sixty year historical account of the Morgan County football program, and Tracks of the Red Elephant, a 100 year history of the Gainesville High School football program. He has written four other books on high school football and is currently working on a book about Wildcat football.

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