Falcons 'answer the call' en route to state final

Falcons 'answer the call' en route to state final

GIBSON CITY — Catchphrases, cliches, slogans. Whatever you want to call them, many athletic programs make them a rallying cry before, during and after competition.

The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football team has chosen "Answer The Call" — a mantra that has followed the Falcons (13-0) into today's 1 p.m. Class 2A state final against Maroa-Forsyth (12-1) at Northern Illinois' Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

Senior linebacker Alex Rosenbaum said it comes from the players delivering that phrase to one another during max-outs in the weight room.

But, the Falcons have taken those three words to a new level thanks to the power of ingenuity and technology.

"After (the players) wanted to do 'Answer The Call,' I thought we needed to have phones," Falcons coach Mike Allen said.

Phones? Yes, phones.

Picture this: A long, wooden board painted black, with two large GCMS Falcon logos plastered on the top corners and the words "2017 GCMS Falcon Football Answer The Call" in red lettering between.

Simple enough.

Now, the phones.

Below all the decoration is a row of 14 bright-red analog phones — although the team was waiting for No. 14 ahead of today's contest. Each phone represents a Falcon win this season, with the first 13 opponents and results in red text above the phones.

An undetermined result remains for No. 14. That will be realized today with a state championship on the line.

This illustration of a team phrase would be different on its own.

Here's the kicker: The phones ring.

"We ... wired them up and used a Bluetooth adaptor to sync with your phone, so we can call (the analog phones) and they would ring," GCMS assistant coach Todd McNutt said matter-of-factly.

McNutt and videographer/booster club president Blake Warren are behind the tech efforts. They followed a previous motivational invention: A ladder GCMS used the last two seasons to symbolize the climb to a state title game.

"I like the phones a lot better, personally," senior lineman Luke Freehill said. "Especially because they ring and I get to answer it."

Freehill has picked up the corresponding ringing phone — without a result above it yet, of course — before each of the Falcons' four postseason games this year.

It's an action that fires up GCMS' players — although not necessarily because of its unique nature.

"Especially when he misses when he hangs it up," senior lineman Ryan Shambrook said.

"I made it last week," Freehill countered.

Regardless, Frehill has one last call to answer today.

And that was the goal all along with this display, Allen said.

"The whole idea is a great thing, but it wouldn't have been complete if we wouldn't have had one on there," Allen said. "They're all going to be filled. It's going to be something to have forever."

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports