The man’s oldest son started football for Silver Lake when he was ten. They went 0-8 that year. That same group of kids has never won a varsity game since mighty mites.
The man and his friend are the new the Silver Lake seventh and eighth grade coaches this season. They have dumped the old power I formation and are playing a hurry-up spread offense. In week one, they lost 22-21, and the parents were ecstatic that their kids had even been competitive.
There are four minutes left against Plymouth South on a blazing hot early fall day. It is 14-12 for Silver Lake. Grant plays offensive and defensive tackle. Matt, the SL QB and defensive end has struck for a fifty-yard TD and rushed for a five-yard TD. He also kicked both extra points, while South has failed on their two-point tries after long TD runs.
Silver Lake has just given the ball up on downs near midfield. Jay has called timeout so they can set the defense up. The players trot over and the man gets ready to give them the defensive call when he notices Matt chewing hard on his mouthpiece and tears pouring down his cheeks.
“Dude, what’s the problem?”
Matt flails an arm. “We just gave up the ball and now they’re gonna score and win the game.”
The man looks at him, then smacks his helmet. “What are you talking about? We’re actually winning the game right now. They’ve had two plays on us all day. We’re gonna kick their asses, take the ball back, and win the game! You got it?”
Matt nods. The man leans in. “Ok, here’s the call.”
On first down, their star running back carries right into Matt’s gap. Matt’s technique is a mess, but he is so athletic that he somehow drops the kid for no gain. And then the kid doesn’t get up. He is cramping. The pace of the SL offense and the heat have finished him. The coaches come get him and he is done for the day.
Two plays later, the South QB drops back for a desperation pass. He never gets it off. Grant sacks him.
It takes two more first downs, but Silver Lake wins. They shake hands with the South players and then meet behind the end zone. The man walks with Grant who says, “You saw my sack, right, Dad?”
“Of course, pal,” he says. “You ended them.”
They reach the team together, and the man is stunned by the silence. The players are removing their pads and barely talking. Jay wanders over.
Finally, the man says, “Hey, guys, you won.”
They look at him.
“I don’t know. Most teams celebrate when they win.”
A few guys laugh.
“I said, most teams celebrate when they win!”
Now they holler and cheer. The man looks at Matt. “And here’s Matt. ‘Oh no! We might lose!’ Or we could just go win! Our conditioning beat them. They folded in those last four minutes.”
Matt smiles broadly. One of the linemen says, “Thank God. This was the first varsity win of my whole life. I was gonna kill myself if I played eight years of football and never won a varsity game.”
“Glad we could save a life,” says Jay. They all laugh and he claps his hands. “Guys, this is just the first of more to come. We beat a quality football team. We got a lot more coming. Now start believing in yourselves a bit!”