I was floored About my first day as a high school senior. The only downside was that I’ve been on the football team at Western High. I know what you’re thinking why would that be bad well our head coach, coach Matt we is 0-48, but I was optimistic thinking things might be better this year.
I get a huge surprise when I walk into the locker room for my last season as a fighting duck. There’s a tall red haired man instead of the short lump that is Coach Matt. “Who are you?!” I ask in exclamation. “The new coach here you can call me Coach Rick.” He replies. I would inquire but just before I can ask he speeds away muttering something unintelligible under his breath. I wonder what that was all about?
The next day I find out, For when I walk into practice I mutter oh crap as I see all the complex drills laid out before me. And as a only a warm up we have to do five 200 yard sprints After the first one me along with many of my teammates are keeling over on the sideline. After the fifth everybody is ready to leave, practice has just begun. Practice starts with a flurry of speed and agility drills for my group of wide receivers running backs and quarterbacks. As the star Wide Receiver I’m used to these but my teammates not so much. I am startled when I hear Coach rich say this was an easy day I reply “good one Coach.” as I think that's a joke.
The next few weeks are some of the most exhausting in my life, but by the time of my first game I am stronger ever thanks to our rigorous exercise regimen and so is the rest of the team. We are all confident heading into our opener against Eastern High our crosstown rivals thinking we might actually win a game.
Our game is finally here we won the toss and elected to defer. Shockingly Eastern High decided to kick off perhaps introducing some new strategy of theirs, so I rushed on the field after a touchback on the kick off pondering their decision. The play was PA X slant Z fade Y wheel This was one of my Favorites I, the Z, ran a fade the X Lucas ran a slant, and the Y Nathan ran a wheel route. Usually I got the ball for a deep gain if our QB could make a good throw if not it was a interception. After that first play I saw Eastern High’s strategy there Defensive line busted through our Offensive line like a piece of paper. They were trying to get a turnover quickly. Their defense must be outstanding if that's their strategy I thought as Ty our QB got sacked for an eight yard loss.
The next play we ran an outside zone run and it looked like it was going to be a loss, but the tailback Mike turned into an eighteen yard gain with a flurry of spin moves. On that drive we find out we have to trust Mike to make plays because our QB gets sacked every passing play. For the next two quarters we scored on all but one drive with a flurry of runs. At halftime the score was 17-14 Eastern High.
We tried the same strategy coming out of the gates, but they stuffed us every time it seemed like we might have revert back to moving the ball through the air. We tried to get the ball to our playmakers as fast as we could and it worked well enough for us to kick a field goal on that drive. Now it was tied 17-17. After that drive it was a battle of defenses no one could seem to move the ball until Eastern High got to the fifteen yard line.
However, the Eastern High quarterback made the mistake of fumbling the ball when our star defensive tackle Bryce hit him like an eighteen wheeler. We had the ball on our own fifteen yard line with a minute left to play. However our kicker pulled his hamstring on the previous kick off so a touchdown was our only option thanks to an unfortunate lack of backups. The next play I caught a fade on the fifty yard line and ran all the way to the one. The few people left watching went insane. We tried to run the ball in on the first two plays, for we had all three of our timeouts left. However they stopped us on both attempts. We decided to call a play action slant to throw off their defense. Our quarterback looked like he was going to get sacked by their linebacker, but he scrambled away and got the pass off for a touchdown in the final seconds.
We had finally won a game! Ty our quarterback got carried off the field by the team as the crowd was going crazy. The Eastern High players hung their heads low, for they just lost to a previously zero and forty eight team. We were elated we couldn’t believe that we had finally emerged in a victorious outcome. I looked at Coach Rick who was just standing there grinning like he wasn’t surprised that we won the standoff.
The next few games we rode the wave of momentum to five consecutive victories for the first time in school history, but we were about to face our toughest challenge Meadowbrook Academy they have been undefeated since fifteen years ago in the two thousand and four state championship. Although this time we might stand a chance having our first winning season in years.
When the game finally arrived we were exhilarated, we might actually stand a chance thanks to the stellar year of tailback mike who already achieved a one thousand rushing yard season. As the game started we scored quickly, but so did Meadowbrook the game commenced in that same fashion for the entire first half until the score was tied at thirty five to thirty five.
Right out of the gates of the second half our special teams unit gave up a kick return touchdown, so we had to go out there and score as quickly as possible. Fortunately I caught a routine slant route, but I managed to turn upfield for a seventy four yard gain. That play got us all the way to inside the one yard line thus we naturally tried to run the ball on first down and got a surprisingly easy touchdown. We continued to play in that very same high scoring fashion, but during the last drive we got stopped on an attempt to convert on fourth down causing us to suffer a crushing loss.
I was defeated mentally and physically I couldn’t believe that we had kept the competition that close, yet still lost. However I knew I couldn’t give up on the team I had to keep trying to win. The rest of the team felt that way too I suppose because we won the rest of our regular season games.
We had made the playoffs for the first time in school history, but our first game was against the undefeated Meadowbrook Academy we were ecstatic that we would have another chance to win against them.
After the game started we realized that they had gotten much better since we last played them. They scored on all their drives, yet we had scored on none. Our offense had completely shut down, and it was evident by the score of thirty five to nothing at the half.
During the second half we tried every possible play combination and type, but nothing seemed to work meanwhile our defense couldn’t stop Meadowbrooks offense, even though they restrained themselves to safe plays such as, inside runs and pitches, but that still gained a more than sufficient amount of yardage to score on every drive before we got the ball back and proceeded to blow a scoring opportunity, because we turned the ball over, or we had to punt, for we could not produce a first down because of our sudden lack of ability to create a play worth more than a few yards, thanks to our quarterback’s sudden lack of skill meanwhile Meadowbrook kept running up the score unintentionally until the final score of seventy to zero.
We were crushed again by the agony of defeat, but we were proud of our advancement as a team becoming a one loss team from losing all of our games the previous year. We all owe our newfound success to Coach Rick for helping us get exponentially better and even making the playoffs. We could all agree twas a successful year even though we lost in the playoffs, for we drastically improved.