Drum savors Shrine Bowl experience

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By Robert Howey

Call it the highlight in the twilight.

Lewisville football coach Floyd Drum, a 39-year sideline veteran, said his recent Shrine Bowl experience represents a special time in a stellar career winding to a close.

Drum, who makes his home in Lancaster where his career includes stops at Lancaster High and South Middle School, said the Carolinas' all-star football experience matches its lofty billing.

The annual high school all-star charity game, which draws the states' top senior football talent and coaches, benefits Shrine hospitals for burned and crippled children.

"You hear coaches say that it's a great week and it is. I rank it with being part of state championship teams here at Lewisville," said Drum, a Sandlapper assistant for the 71st game last Saturday afternoon in Spartanburg.

In the next breath, Drum added it's work aplenty.

"You go from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the week of the game," he said. "You return to the hotel, and it's meetings. You go to bed at 11 and you're ready. You have the best players in the state and you want to make sure they play their best because it's a one-shot deal."

Drum, who handled the Sandlappers' defensive line, said the S.C. stars' work was pivotal in their 31-24 win over N.C.

"We set the tone for the game from the first practice," he said. "Our staff knew we had to be physical. The first thing we did at practice was the Oklahoma drill, fundamental football, blocking and tackling. We had contact."

Drum said the player combines held in Columbia last summer also boosted the S.C. cause.

"The combines are something new," Drum said. "It gave us an idea who to take. There wasn't one unworthy player."

Drum worked an elite group which included Dennis Bowers of Bamberg-Ehrhardt headed to Clemson and USC-bound Kentrell Davis of Newberry along with Dontae Rumph of Calhoun County slated to sign with Kentucky and Everette Dawkins of Byrnes set to play at Florida State.

"It's an elite group," he said. "I will follow their careers with interest."

Drum also coached Dion Foster, the Lewisville ace lineman who also repesented the Richburg Class A school.

"To have one of your own is real special," Drum said. "Dion played well on both sides of the ball. On our first touchdown, Dion was in there as the H-back and threw a key block on the play. Dion showed he deserved to be there.

"It was a great day for our school and community since we had a coach and player involved along with our cheerleaders and junior ROTC unit which participated in presenting the colors"

The Sandlappers' win, which snapped a two-game skid and gave them a 39-28-4 edge in the series, put S.C. first for a year.

That's the plus for the 2008 S.C. team. You go first in everything when you win. Like when you go to eat, the winning team from the previous year goes first during the week of practice and the loser waits," Drum said. "Since S.C. lost in 2006, we had to wait on N.C., all week, but after we won Saturday, we went first. When we unloaded after the game at the hotel, N.C. had to wait on us. It's a matter of pride and a pretty neat tradition."

Drum added the experience will be one to cherish long after he decides to hang up his cap and whistle for the final time.

"It's like if I could take the whole experience and put it in a jar on a shelf. If I feel down, I open it and that down feeling would go away quickly," he said.

For any "jar memory," it's all what you put in it.

Drum's jar, a Shrine Bowl week and all, would be hard to beat.