Hundreds of people, a veritable sea of purple -- and even rival fans -- gave the Marion County High football team a resounding playoff send off.
The team is on its way to face second ranked Trousdale County tonight.
The Warriors have placed their focus on putting the disruption of the past two weeks behind them.
The afternoon pep rally wrapped around Jasper Town Square and no one talked about the vandalism coaching scandal or the resignation of head coach Mac McCurry.
Football is huge here, but another strand of emotion rings true today. The community knows the innocent players have been hurt and need their support.
Eb Neeley has a grandson on the Warriors team and has been connected to the program for years. He summed up the last two weeks like this, "When they suffer, we suffer. When we suffer, they suffer. That's just the way we are," Neeley said.
Even cross-county rival Whitwell High sent its cheerleading squad. Senior Shania Davis said, "This year we felt like they needed some extra support, so we decided to bring our cheerleaders down here. We're going to lay our differences aside today and say Go Warriors."
That gesture moved the crowd, especially Sarah Ziegler, the wife of Marion High principal Larry Ziegler. She said, "That is amazing. That just shows you we are a football town and we love our rivalries because it makes for some really good football, but when things get rough in this community, our county pulls together and we are united all the way through."
The misting rain didn't dampen the crowd's spirit or attendance. With the sidewalks and corners packed, the police led procession came through town. Sirens wailed and the fans cheered. The bus filled with Warrior players rolled by and wove through town.
Students, brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents cheered and waved, hoping for another win to create uplifting memories.by John Madwell