By DANNY P. SMITH
It was the first time I had been on the East Webster High School campus since the storm.
Since the April 27 tornado ripped through the Cumberland community, I had only heard the stories and saw pictures of the damage caused by the tremendous wind.
As I walked up to the football field to cover the game between the Wolverines and the Vardaman Rams on Friday, the evidence of the destruction was still around.
It was tough to see.
The severely damaged school was still surrounded by warning tape. The former field house was crumbled to the ground. Many of the trees that used to surround the field are gone.
One thing that remained and was not taken by the tornado was the spirit of the East Webster people.
The Wolverines and their fans were back for Friday night football and were determined not to let adversity keep them down.
The words that former East Webster head football coach Jimmy Carden offered during a pregame prayer were true. Buildings can be replaced, but human life can't be.
After seeing what was left of the school, it was a blessing that no one was present the morning the weather system blew through the area.
There was a brief pregame ceremony where principal Bill Brand and Webster County school superintendent Jimmy Pittman gave brief remarks. They expressed their appreciation for those who made playing football on campus possible.
A moment of silence was also observed for the late Larry Sisk, a huge supporter of the Wolverines, who lost his life in a fatal automobile accident on the Natchez Trace.
It's still amazing to watch members of a community rally around each other when faced with adversity.
The East Webster football team had to overcome that very thing during its game against Vardaman.
Trailing 12-7 through much of the second half, the Wolverines found a way to take the lead in the fourth quarter and secured a 13-12 emotional victory.
East Webster lost many leaders and good players from last year's 13-1 squad, but there were some young Wolverines playing with heart against the Rams.
As the game progressed, it was evident that nothing was going to prevent East Webster from having success on that night. Vardaman, a very good team, just happened to be the unfortunate opponent standing in the way.
Even though it was a little difficult to read the final score on the small temporary scoreboard attached to where the original one once stood, the significance of what the victory meant to the Wolverines was very clear.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.