Most people familiar with the Winder-Barrow High football team might not have expected hard-nosed, energetic offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Naji Lyon to read poetry Friday afternoon as Bulldogg linemen Cullen Moore and Dylan Brown signed college scholarships.
But there was the proud English teacher and retired Marine, reading a poem he penned in honor of “the toughest position in the toughest sport in the world” — specifically Moore, who signed with Averett University of Danville, Va., and Brown, who inked with Southwestern College of Winfield, Kan.
“I am the guardian of the small, the weak, the frail. Other players are not willing to do what I do because in what I do there is no glory,” Lyon read in one passage.
“…You will not hear legendary stories of my deeds. My satisfaction comes only in seeing the success of those I protect. I am willing to do that which others are not willing to do. I am an offensive lineman.”
Lyon said the poem encapsulates the attitude and work ethic of Moore and Brown.
“These two guys are living proof of what today’s young people can do,” he said. “They’ve overcome huge obstacles and major injuries. They were both fairly undersized compared to linemen for other schools in the area. But they are tough as nails and the picture of what I ask for out of my linemen.”
Moore, who started at guard last fall for the Bulldoggs will join Averett, which competes in the USA South Atlantic Conference in NCAA Div. III. The Cougars went 5-5 this past season.
“I firmly believe that Cullen’s best days of football are ahead of him because I’ve seen tremendous growth in him, even up through his senior year,” Winder-Barrow head coach Heath Webb said. “He’s still getting bigger, faster and stronger. Averett is getting a player with tremendous upside who is just going to get better and should be an instant contributor there.”
Meanwhile Brown, a three-year starter at center for the Bulldoggs and second-team all-Region 8-AAAAAA selection in 2016, will be taking his talents to the Moundbuilders, who compete in the NAIA’s Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and went 2-6 last season.
“Dylan obviously will be very missed,” Webb said. “When you have a guy who has touched the ball on every single play, you’re going to miss him, but we know Southwestern is getting a heck of a player and great person.”