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Jackson County’s John Hallock delivers powerful pregame speech

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 10:11 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2020 at 1:26 PM EDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Two teams who have dealt with cancellations so far this season met for a game that was a lot bigger than football. So before their game, Jackson County Head Coach John Hallock delivered a message about unity among the teams that are 143 miles a part and share different backgrounds.

Hallock and his Generals defeated Shawnee, 30-20, but the game was about more than the final score for each team.

Original story:

One Eastern Kentucky high school has only played one football game.

Jackson County has dealt with two straight cancellations because of the pandemic while one small Louisville school has struggled to find opponents for other reasons.

Friday night, Jackson County will travel to Shawnee High School and the Jackson County football coach says it is all about showing solidarity.

“Going into my senior season, it was pretty stressful. Other teammates hoping we would have a chance to play," said senior Blake Allen.

At Louisville’s Shawnee High Schoool, they were also looking for an opponent but problems plaguing that city led to cancellations also. However, Jackson County’s Coach John Hallock saw an opportunity.

“I felt bad for my kids. Felt bad for their kids. Felt bad for some of the reasons why kids were told the game can’t be played," said Hallock.

Both wanted to play a football game, but the underlying reasons were so much greater.

“Going into Louisville with the issues they have going on right now. Wonderful opportunity to show we are one,” said Hallock.

“We have to put aside color and all that. At the end of the day, we are all one race. Same despite color you know," said Allen.

Jackson County has an all white team from rural Kentucky. Shawnee has a largely Black team from the state’s largest city.

“What’s the differences between us? Skin color? That shouldn’t decide us. Should unite us," said Hallock.

Coach sees the game as a major educational opportunity that players have bought into.

“So I had several of them ask do you think it’s ok if before the game we lock arms and pray. Now because of COVID we probably can’t lock arms," said Coach.

Both are looking forward to finally playing football, but planning to leave the field with a whole lot more.

The matchup will also feature two struggling programs. Shawnee has a 56 game losing streak and Jackson County has only won 11 games in six years.

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