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Two things are true in most families.
One is that they tend to fight amongst themselves. Two is that if you pick a fight with one, you’ve picked a fight with them all. Such is the case in Midway this year as the Green Wave are in the midst of a special season. A big reason for that success is a family atmosphere led by an offensive line in which four starters, Gage Patterson, Brandon Patterson, Zach Patterson and Seth Colyer, are all cousins. The fifth starter, Hayden Hester, isn’t related to the other four, but you wouldn’t know it when the group is together. “We’re all family. He’s (Hayden) not related by blood, but he’s one of us,” Brandon Patterson said. “We fight all the time, but we’re there for each other.” “When we do fight, we get over it quick then we get the job done,” Zach Patterson added. “We’ve grown up together,” Hester said. “All of us except Zach have played together since we were little.” Midway head coach Joe Campbell says the offensive line is a big reason why the Green Wave have advanced to the TSSAA Class 1A playoffs for only the fourth time in school history, and he believes the family aspect has rubbed off on the team as a whole. “The line has really picked it up, especially the second half of the season,” Campbell said. “Those guys fight with each other, but they’re in it for each other. Sometimes they can say a word or just give each other a look and they know what the other is thinking.” While Midway is in the midst of a great season, the past few years haven’t necessarily been great, especially for the line. During Zach Patterson’s freshman season of 2010, Midway failed to win a game. In 2011, Hester, Gage Patterson and Brandon Patterson joined the mix and the Green Wave went 3-7. Colyer was a freshman during Midway’s 5-6 season a year ago. Those times were bad partly because Midway was a young team and their line was pushed around against some bigger schools. “It was pretty rough,” Hester said. “We didn’t really want to be out there because we were getting killed.” “We had no choice though, no one was left,” Gage Patterson added. “But it made us what we are today. It helped us in the long run.” “To me it’s all about their character,” Campbell said. “They haven’t given up. Last year at this time our season was over, but those guys were in the weight room working their tails off to get better. That’s shown up on the field this year in the fourth quarter of our games. They’re a tight-knit group that has each other’s back.” Despite all the hard times early on, the group never thought about quitting, saying it’s not in their nature. “It’s the way we’ve been brought up,” Hester said. “If you know how we’ve been raised then you know we don’t give up.” “This is our family and we’re not going to break it up,” Colyer added. That hard-working style has led to a 9-3 record this season and the Green Wave offense has been explosive, averaging 30.1 points per game. Green Wave QB Shandon Lyle has spearheaded the charge, rushing and passing for more than 3,100 yards while having a hand in 37 TDs on the ground and through the air. Lyle, however, is quick to give credit to his personal protectors in the trenches. “It’s nice having these big guys in front of me,” Lyle said. “They do everything well. They run block well and do a great job of pass protection. I’m confident that they’re going to block the guys they’re supposed to and leave the right one for me to read.” “The offensive line is the only position on the field that doesn’t have stats.,” Campbell added. “Even the defensive line has tackles, but for us, the rushing yards as a whole go to them. We has a goal this year to rush for 2,000 yards and we’ve done that.” Midway’s line was at its best last week when the Green Wave out gained Cloudland by more than 100 yards in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs. The win was Midway’s first-ever at Cloudland and was special to all the players that played. “It was personal for us,” Brandon Patterson said. “They had beaten us the year before and we wanted revenge.” “We feel like we put our names in the history books with that win,” Colyer added. “Winning at Cloudland hasn’t been done before and I think we made people proud.” Midway will have a chance to make even more history Friday night when they travel to Coalfield to take on a powerful Yellow Jacket team that just happens to have what many believe is the best line in the state with TSSAA Mr. Football Finalist and University of Tennessee commitment Zach Stewart leading the way. Midway, however, isn’t backing down from the challenge, but instead they’re embracing it. “This game is going to be won up front,” Zach Patterson said. “If we play as a team, we’ll win.” “We know they’re good, but if we can whip their tails then we’ll get noticed,” Hester said. “It’s going to take want-to and grit.” “And a little meanness,” Gage Patterson added. “I think they’re ready to meet the challenge,” Campbell said. “It’s all they’ve talked about in practice. They’re pretty fired up about Friday night.”