(Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

Despite the fact our team won a state championship in 2015, by 2017 Davidson Day High School didn't have enough players to put a team together.

Not only did I not have a team to play for, my coach suddenly didn't have a job helping young football players. He moved down to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, to coach Oceanside High School. And after debating on whether I should sit out my senior season or play, I moved down to Mount Pleasant and followed him.

But this wasn't just any coach...this was Chad Grier. He helped turn his son, Will Grier, into an NFL draft pick. In his five years at Davidson Day High School, he went to the state title game each year and won four of them. So I decided I should follow him to Oceanside High School.

Even if they were 0-8 the previous season.

I remember I arrived in Mount Pleasant about two months before the season started, and I could tell we had our work cut out for us. In the first practice I threw about 50 passes and completed maybe three of them.

But once again I put my trust in God, and His plan. If there really was a time to tear down and a time to build, as the Bible verse says, I think I witnessed it that season. It took time to develop chemistry with our receivers, but eventually we started to click, and we won 7 games. Maybe it wasn't a state championship, but considering where we had come from, it's still a huge accomplishment.

I graduated that winter so I could enroll early at Wake Forest. I was the only student graduating that December, so I had the unique honor of graduating at both the top and bottom of my class. However you looked at it, I was finally going to become a Demon Deacon.

 
 

(Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

I earned the starting job in time for the season opener, which turned out to be one of the craziest games of our season.

The game started as a defensive struggle as we went into halftime with a 7-0 lead, but I knew I was going to have to give our defense more help than that. Tulane came back with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to go up 14-10, but we didn't quit.

My teammate Alex Bachman - a senior - created some separation and I found him in the end zone to put us back up 17-14. Tulane tied it in the closing minutes to force overtime, but our team never caved under the pressure. We knew that we still had an overtime to play, and when Tulane got the ball first our defense came up big.

Instead of giving up any ground, they pushed Tulane back 15 yards and out of field goal range. When it was our turn, we slowly and methodically moved our way down the field, converting a pair of crucial third downs. And when Cade Carney ran it in from a yard out for the touchdown, we were officially 1-0 on the season.

It was the kind of moment you dream about as a kid...leading your team to a victory on the road. It was just a surreal moment, and when I look back at the film from that game, I still think to myself...wow, that actually happened.

 
 

That was definitely one of the highs in a season that saw plenty of lows too. At one point we lost four out of five games, including a 63-3 loss against Clemson, but I made sure to stay strong.

Whenever I would go back in the weight room, and I was fighting for one last rep, Demitri served as all the extra motivation I would need. I know he would have loved to be down here playing football too, and since I was blessed with the opportunity of playing here, Demitri would want me to make the most of it.

During that stretch, I just had to remember that this whole thing is bigger than me. Yes, I was struggling, but there was a whole group of guys that were counting on each other to stay strong, and we did.

The next week we played one of our best games of the year when we beat Louisville 56-35. I was able to avoid any interceptions, and as an offense, we were firing on all cylinders. But before the season ended I had to pass one final test.

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Thomas Hager