Daniel Dooley describes his son as a non-talkative type, especially on game days.
“Usually doesn’t say much,” he said.
But last Thursday night, Waverly Central quarterback Jacob Dooley was antsy. He was walking the floor.
“He was in the living room just tossing that football up in the air,” his dad said. “He was excited about this.”
So was the entire town. About 200 fans traveled from the Waverly area, which was ravaged by the deadly Aug. 21 flood, to watch the Tigers win 42-20 at Sycamore last Friday in their first game of the season.
The flood in Waverly and other parts of Humphreys County claimed 20 lives. Normalcy has not yet resumed there. Many Waverly players are still working every day to help those affected, whether by dropping off supplies or helping haul debris.
But for a couple hours Friday, with the first cool September breeze in the air, it was all about football.
Waverly was ready to play: it led 28-0 at halftime, and its defense held Sycamore to negative yardage until the backups went in for the fourth quarter.
Junior running back Easton Elliott ran for 117 yards.
Dooley threw for 101 yards, rushed for 52 and accounted for five touchdowns.
That first score felt special, he said.
“This sport means so much to our city,” Dooley said. “My dad’s wearing a shirt that says ‘We’ll carry this city wherever we go.’ And that’s what we’re gonna do this season.”
The Tigers will play their entire regular season away from home due to damage at Ray Hampton Stadium and Wayne Himes Field House. Friday was the first stop on the longest road swing of their lives.
Dooley wondered why they were so nervous on their first drive, why he missed a few shots downfield and why there were so many penalties.
But Waverly fans didn’t seem to mind. For one night, conversations about the flood took a backseat.
In between downs, players buzzed about their big plays on the field, how hard they hit the quarterback. They showed each other their cuts and bruises.
Just getting to play on a football field was a luxury for the Tigers, who proved they are no slouches after last year’s Class 2A state semifinal berth.
“We’ve been practicing on a dang baseball field,” Dooley said. “Just to be out here on a field meant for this sport is awesome. Yesterday we did our walk-through on a (youth) field and it was 80 yards.”
The Tigers are actually lucky, Dooley realized.
“When I went down to the field house, the dang water was up waist high,” he said. “The field had nails and glass in it, and I was thinking we weren’t gonna play again. It’s a blessing to be out here.”
Waverly assistant coach Joe Rhodes was at the field house Aug. 21 when the waters began to rise. He scooped up the team’s jerseys and perched them up on a weight rack to keep them from getting ruined.
That meant players were wearing their fresh road whites when they ran onto the Sycamore field. Senior Kade Anderson led them out while hoisting an American flag.
Football means more than ever to Waverly under the circumstances. Two more students even joined the football team this week, head coach Randall Boldin confirmed, which could just be a coincidence.
But the team has been a rally point.
There were plenty of “Waverly Strong” and “We Are Waverly” hats and shirts in the bleachers. But the largest insignia was a banner that read, “Nothing beats America and Friday Night Lights.”
Everyone was ready for this.
“I think they’re focused. They were locked in,” Boldin said of the players. “My (starters) were trying to go back in at the end of the game. They were going, ‘Put us back in! Put us back in!’ They don’t understand our job is to try and keep everyone healthy. We’ve been off an entire week, and we’ve got a long season in front of us.”
Robert Parchment has seen a lot of cattle get larger in his nearly 50 years working at the Dickson Regional Livestock Center.
Parchment, 64, is the Sale Barn Manager for the DRLC that is located at 120 Livestock Rd. off of Highway 46. It opened its pens for its first cattle sale on Aug. 22, 1972.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years,” said Parchment, who said he began working there when he was 15. “It used to be that steers would weigh 1,200 to 1,250 pounds. Nowadays a lot are weighing from 1,400 to 1,600 pounds.”
Parchment said that many sell their cattle these days because land is in demand for higher prices, so people sell the cattle and the land.
“There’s not as many buying cattle and turning them out like it used to be,” he said, adding that a new roof is in the works for the barn.
Parchment said that in 1972 the facility was operated by Bob Churchill of Dickson, James Daniel of Charlotte, Duard Sullivan of Nashville and Calvin Curkham of Portland. Churchill served as manager and Curkham served as auctioneer. Riley Livestock, Inc. took over as owners in November of 2013. Jeff Riley, Joey Riley, Randy Riley and Mary Ann Riley still operate the DRLC.
“They had 20,000-22,000 cattle a year and last year it was up to 57,000, drawing cattle from a 150-mile radius,” said Parchment, whose wife, Lisa, is secretary for the DRLC.
Parchment said that roughly 200 cattle an hour are sold at the DLRC every Monday starting at 10 a.m. There are 150 pens that are often filled to capacity on Mondays, he said.
“It’s mostly supply and demand these days,” he said. “When it does good, you’d be surprised just how much you benefit. I’ve been doing this ever since I was I was 15 living in Cumberland City. The first year the barn paid for itself. There are bigger sales that last now. We’ve also been pulling cattle from west Tennessee where Memphis and Trenton shut down. The goal for the farmer is to make money.
The moment is etched in my mind forever. I wish it never took up space in my head but it does. And it will always be there.
It was going to be a special day because I was taking my 3-year-old daughter to her first Mother’s Day Out class. Her mom was already at work so I was tasked with feeding, dressing and getting her there on time. We had rushed through the first two quickly and now we were going to watch “The Rugrats” for a few minutes before we left.
My phone rang.
“Hello?” The voice on the other end said simply, “Hey, turn on CNN right now.”
I paused and said, “Why? Because if I turn this channel my girl is going to lose it.”
Silence for a few seconds and then my friend said, “A huge plane just hit the World Trade Center. Turn it on.”
I picked up the remote and turned the channel. What in the world was I seeing? A plane just happened to hit that building? From the TV view it seemed to be a bright and sunny day in Manhattan. No, it was something else. Had to be.
Then, I watched as the second plane hit the other tower. My God, did I really just see that?
“Oh God, did you see that? It just flew right into the building!” I was in shock. “Ed, I will call you back.”
I was still processing what I was seeing and having really no understanding of what I was seeing. That makes zero sense, I know, but at the time it did.
Suddenly, reality tugged at my shirt.
“Daddy, where did ‘The Rugrats’ go? Put ‘The Rugrats’ back on.”
I had completely forgotten my daughter was sitting next to me the whole time. I looked at her and said, “I am sorry sweetheart, here you go.”
I turned it back on “The Rugrats” for her and went into the kitchen, knowing that when I took her to school, the world we knew that morning would never be the same.
Joe “Big Joe on the Go” Dubin is a Nashville native and a columnist for Main Street Media.