Saturday, March 14, 2009

Storytellin, the Next Chapter

Ok... since TW wanted to hear another story, I'll go ahead and tell the tale of the football game.

Back when I was a senior in high school, we were poised to go to the state championships. Unfortunately in our conference, you had to go undefeated to go to state. One loss and that was the end of your season.

We started out the season strong by beating a local team that was actually in the class above us. We'd beat them pert near every year, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But we got cocky after that, and the next game was with another non-conference opponent. They whooped us 20-0, but it taught us a lesson and we never took another game for granted.

Throughout the season, we took care of every other team we faced, but so had another team. This team had actually beat us in the state championship game the previous year, and we had to play them on their turf. Add to that the game took place in late October when the grass on their field was about 6 inches tall and you could see your breath, and you've got the makings of an epic game.

And an epic game it was.

We'd get the ball and drive half of the field, then they'd stop us and we'd punt. They'd take the ball and drive for a while, then we'd stop them and they'd punt. There were a few turnovers thrown in for good measure. And then there was about 2 minutes left in the game...

The other team had the ball and were driving for the first score of the game.

Of course this is small town high school football, so we played both ways, and on kickoffs and returns. Seniors never left the field.

On this particular down, they threw a pass and their receiver caught the ball. I was the defensive end on that side of the field, and so I turned to watch the outcome as the ball sailed over my head. Our outside linebacker was out of position and all he could do was lunge at the receiver as he was falling to the ground. A touchdown to be certain. However... the receiver had double knotted his shoelaces and as the linebacker flopped to the ground he reached out his hand just as far as he could. Serendipity is a helluva player, and the loop of the receiver's shoelace flipped over the linebacker's outstretched index finger and snagged itself tripping the receiver immediately for a minimal gain.

The clock ran down to under a minute and our coach called timeout to give us all the advice he could. There was only one play left in the game.

Now our opponent ran the single wing offense. What that means is that the quarterback was always in the shotgun formation about 7 yards behind the center. The advantage to this is that the quarterback is removed from the chaos of the line and has a little more time to react. The disadvantage is that he has to catch the long snap.

Our defensive coach came into the huddle and pointed at two of my fellow seniors. "Ok... I want the two of you to line up on the center and bury him as he snaps the ball. Then I want you two linebackers to follow them right up the center and get that quarterback." He looked over at me and the other end and said, "You two ends don't let him get outside, let's take this thing into overtime and win it." The ref came over and told the coach it was time to go, and we all lined up for the final play in regulation.

You've all seen the movies where the football team lines up against each other, hands stained with grass, steam blowing out of each lineman's facemask like so many medieval dragons. It was just exactly like that, only dead silence. The only sound to break the silence was the sound of the quarterback.


Then... piercing the silence was the conversation between the two guys on my team lined up directly over the center. "Coach said we're supposed to shove this fucker's head out his asshole, right?"

"SET!!" the QB yelled back.

"That's what he said alright!" my buddy answered.

"HUT!!!" the QB screamed and threw his hands out to catch the football.

Now... I was a good 5 yards away from the conversation being had right over the center, and I heard everything perfectly. You can only imagine how well the center heard the same conversation. He snapped the ball as hard as he could and fell to the ground grabbing his helmet and curling up in a ball as he went trying to avoid the maiming to come. I came off the line in a sprint at the moment the ball was snapped, looking at the QB the whole time, and saw his eyes grow as big as saucers as the football was launched three feet over his head. He jumped to catch it, but it was gone, so he turned around and ran after the bouncing ball. I was one step behind him at this point, and gaining.

While I was running, a couple of thoughts were racing through my mind, do I go for the quarterback or the football. QB? Football? QB?? Football??? As the QB reached for the ball, I made up my mind. The QB was the only player between the football and the endzone, I had to take him out and let the chips fall where they would. His hands just started to touch the ball and I buried him. After the collision, I rolled over to try to find the ball and was able to see my friend, who was lined up over the center, pick the ball up and start running toward the goal line.

You see... once the center assumed the fetal position, there was nobody between him and us.

As I said earlier, the grass was about 6 inches tall and you couldn't see the yardlines, so my buddy ran clear through the endzone and into the parking lot, just to make sure.

There were 30 seconds left, and we kicked off deep and stopped them cold. We won, 7-0.


Today's mystery lyric: (Remember the rules folks, no online searching of the lyrics, if you don't know it, you don't have the answer!)

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered
I'm not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime

Answer to last lyric: Tarzan Boy by Baltimora. Close, but no cigars.