The winner of this game goes to the city championship. They are playing on a brown, weed and dirt field at Driscoll Middle School. The score is 16-14 for Tom Browne, the young man’s school. He is playing free safety and there is maybe a minute left in this game.
Driscoll comes out in twins. The young man is the free safety. He calls twins to the right. The tall black kid, Richard Clayton, is in the slot. The young man has seen them run a criss-cross pattern twice now, one ending with Richard catching a long TD on the Browne corner and the other ending with a similarly long gain.
At the snap, the two receivers cross, but the young man knows the inside route is not the target and that the corner can’t handle Clayton. He leaves his assignment in pursuit of Clayton. The ball goes up, Clayton’s eyes go up. He makes the catch in stride at the five. But he carries the ball loosely in his inside arm not his outside.
The young man hits Clayton at the four and rips at the ball. It comes free easily and bounces just beneath him. He falls on it, then leaps up, ball in hand, in celebration. Two kneeling plays later, they storm off the field, bound for the city championship.