Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mrs. Linklater's Riveting High School Sports Columns Continue

For those of you who don't have the stomach for my previous columns about high school football, as fascinating as they were, here's a quick summary of the last two games of my high school alma mater, the one where the son of good friends plays. He's the reason I've been going to the games. Unlike Congressman Foley, I'm no longer hanging out at the hotdog stand trying to pick up teen boys.

Last week they lost a wild one for the conference championship by one touchdown, 47-40. The last team with the ball won. This week they won a wild one 46-45 over a ranked team. The last team with the ball won.

The Ugly Details:

The score at halftime of the game they lost was a mere 14 - 14.

Unfortunately, thanks to a mismatch in the defensive backfield, the score jumped to 34 to 14 [them] by the end of the third quarter. Game over? People began to leave the stands. But the kids never quit. Recovered fumbles, onside kicks, you name it, they did it. 

Last night my friends' son had over 100 yards of combined yardage before halftime. The week before he returned a kick off 68 yards, which led to a touchdown and sparked his team's final comeback, even though they came up those seven points short.

But last night, unllike last week, they didn't lose, beating the 12th [or 10th or 21st, depending on which poll you follow] ranked team in the state by one point in triple overtime. They are 6-2 for the season which qualifies them for the play offs. And more stomach churning excitement.

You need a defibrillator to attend these games, what with all the picks, fumbles, greasy hand offs, bad kicks, flat out miracles and last second comebacks. 

"Our" QB started last night's game by throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball. His fumble went for a touchdown. For the other team. That didn't bode well, especially since the other guys had a 6'5" receiver with speed. An Irish Randy Moss.

I recognized the Randy Moss kid's name. It was the same as his dad's. Living most of my life around this area, I realized I had played on a really good softball team with the Randy Moss clone's mother and four of her husband's sisters. Randy's mom even decided to become a tennis pro in her forties and was good enough in a year to get hired by a local club. Then I also remembered that last year, her tall, fleetfooted spawn singlehandedly beat us in the playoffs.

Last night, during the THIRD overtime, the score was tied 45-45, after exchanging field goals and two touchdowns apiece. But after the other team's last touchdown, their PAT was no good. One more point and we would win..

We were lucky to be there. With less than two minutes in regulation, in front of a homecoming crowd, the good guys were down eight points, 29-21. But, like the week before, they never quit. This week they got a last second touchdown and tied the game with a two point conversion. Time remaining: 1:15. 

Now in the third overtime, calling two timeouts to let their opponents' kicker think about his important kick had worked. He missed it.

But, after we scored a TD during our turn, since you take turns during an overtime, it was our placekicker's turn to wait. Naturally, the other team called two timeouts so he could get all hinky and screw up. Tick tock tick tock.

When it was time for the kick, our head coach couldn't watch. He was going to let the noise from the fans tell him if we had won the game.

When the kick went through the uprights and the refs threw their arms in the air, the stands eruptied. Then they emptied. The entire student body was on the field surrounding the players -- jumping, hugging, screaming. You know the drill. It was freezing cold, but there was a whole group of shirtless boys painted in school colors running around like wild Indians.

I had five layers of clothing and a blanket over me. But when the game finally ended I suddenly felt very cold.  For four hours, adrenaline had kept me warm in the unseasonably cold weather. Now I needed some hot chocolate. I wanted to pour it over my head.

I'm too old for this.


swibirun said...

47-40......a real defensive battle there, huh? :)


screaminremo303 said...

Faced with the choice between the Arizona Cardinals and ASU this year, I've developed a particular taste for local high school football.

It's fun to watch kids play for the FUN of it.