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The Pennsylvania Kid
“Zoom!” Mr. Saunders 2009 neon, green Lamborghini sounded as the engine broke the silent peaceful chattering of the birds as he went to work after he dropped off his son, Colt at the bus stop. It was the last day of school for Colt in eighth grade at Keith Valley Middle School in Horsham, Pennsylvania. He was planning on going to Hatboro Horsham High School next year. He was going to be the starting quarterback for the school football teams.
“I am looking forward to playing Souderton next year. They are a huge rival and one of the best teams in the state,” Colt repeats many times a day.
“Just calm down,” his friends and parents always told him. If he was allowed to, he would talk football all day, all night, every day. But there were only five seconds left in the last day of middle school and for once he was not talking about football.
“FIVE- FOUR- THREE- TWO- ONE” the students screamed as the bell rang and all of the students ran out screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. The bus was crazy because the bus driver couldn’t suspend anyone from the bus on the last day of school. Colt was doing crazy things on the bus. Today he decided to walk home from the bus with some friends instead of getting picked up at the bus stop. When he walked up to his street he could see his dad’s new Lamborghini sitting in the driveway. Colt opened the door and saw his mom and dad sitting at the kitchen table talking over a cup of coffee. This was unusual for Colt because his dad usually arrived at home around six o’clock at night.
“Come sit down Colt,” his mom and dad said sadly at the same exact time almost as if it was planned.
“What’s wrong Colt” whispered curiously.
“Your dad has been relocated to Tallahassee, Florida,” his mom uttered while she was crying. Colt’s mom has lived in Horsham all her life except for her time in college.
“I support your company’s decision and I will support you all the way,” Colt said fighting back the tears. Colt has grown up in Horsham and it was the only place he knew. His friends live in Horsham and he was going to be starting quarterback on the high school football team next year.
“What about football?” he said trying to make a joke to cheer everyone up.
“You will go to Lincoln High School next year in Tallahassee Florida,” his dad started to say. “They take Football extremely seriously there,” he continued.
“Even more serious than Pennsylvania?” Colt asked curiously.
“Yes, you will have to train a lot harder and earn your starting spot on the varsity team. They have one of the best QBs in the country,” his dad said.
“Then why did we pick this town?” Colt screamed angrily.
“I’ll leave you two alone to talk and work this out,” his mom said.
“We did not get to pick; my company relocated us,” his dad said, trying to understand Colt’s frustration.
“Well you can leave, I’m staying” Colt screamed as he stomped upstairs to his room. Colt had no desire to go to Florida, however he had no choice and ended up going. Colt said nothing on the car ride to Tallahassee.
All he was thinking about was how he was going to get the starting position on the Lincoln High School’s football team. He already knew that their QB was six foot eight, and weighed two hundred thirty three pounds of pure muscle. Not only was he a physical specimen, but he had incredible accuracy and you can and his intensity which was seen through his piercing blue eyes that he was determined to win every game. His name was JD Hatcher.
Today was the first day of practice and the Tallahassee Trojans came ready to play. Colt did not get any reps during the first day of practice. The team belonged to JD and nobody else was going to get a chance at quarterback this season. Colt overheard an assistant coach say if JD got hurt the team would definitely fall apart. The second practice of the season the coach finally noticed that Colt was standing, anxious to get a few snaps.
“Saunders, get over here,” coach said. Colt started to stroll across the green, fresh cut, newly lined, natural grass football field.
“Now, hurry up!” the coach screamed, starting to lose his patience.
“Learn the playbook tonight and we will try to get you a few snaps tomorrow” the coach said before Colt even got a chance to catch his breath after jogging over. The coach ended practice and told the team to hit the showers early and to get a good night sleep before the first day of school tomorrow. If the short, old coach was strict about anything besides football, it would be his player’s grades. Colt’s father thought the same way and woke him up early so he would not be late for the first day of school. He woke up to ‘How to Save a Life’ by ‘The Fray’.
Colt’s father drove him to the bus stop in the same Lamborghini that he did on the last day of school in Hatboro- Horsham. The first day is typically the easiest unless you know absolutely no one and you are brand new to the school just like Colt was at Lincoln High. Football practice in the afternoon was the highlight of his day.
He finally took a few snaps in practice that day. He played great in practice and proved that he should be on the team. Colt was still mad that he was not “QB-1” on the Trojans because he knew he would have had the starting spot on the Hatters. The team has been preparing for the first game of the season which was on Friday night. JD was completely prepared, however, Colt was still learning the new system and knew he wasn’t ready to play.
The week flew by and as Friday night approached, the whole school was decked out in green and gold. The football team was pumped and ready to play. The school is held a pep rally right after school to make sure the fans were pumped up as well.
At seven o’clock the team was in the locker room getting ready for the season opener. Colt was surprised about how big football was in Florida. In Pennsylvania his team drew big crowds but nothing like he saw that night. It seemed like the whole town was at the game.
The Trojans were playing one of the best teams in the state today, the Independents. The Trojans won the toss and decided to receive. The kickoff went through the end zone for a touchback. JD Hatcher brought the Trojans to the line for the first play of the season. You could feel the intensity in the air and see it on the faces of the players.
“HUT! HUT! HIKE!” JD screams as he stepped back to pass. The Independents were blitzing. JD scrambled to his right and as he started to round the corner, he got drilled straight into the ground and lost the football. The Trojans recovered the football but JD layed with his face down into the ground. JD was not moving. The coaches, trainers and doctor ran onto the field, each with a nervous look on their face. so it was now Colts turn to shine. After JD was carted off on a stretcher, the head coach called for Colt. He told Colt that “The team doctor say that JD is done for the rest of the season.” He then whispered “Saunders, this is your team now. Play your heart out.”
Colt went in for the first snap of his career in a Trojans uniform.
“Slants on one,” Colt screamed into the huddle.
“HIIKE” as the center snapped the ball back into Colts hand. He stepped back in the pocket and saw one of his receivers right beyond the first down marker. He threw the ball and the crowd was going crazy. At that very moment, the cornerback stepped in front of the open receiver and intercepted the pass. The crowd suddenly went silent, watching the speedy defender return the ball to “the house” for a touchdown. As he walked off the field, Colt could hear the booing from the crowd. He was thinking about Hatboro-Horsham and how much he wanted to be there. Although Colt received to throw three touchdowns in the game, it was not enough to overcome the four interceptions that he threw in the 31-28 loss. It was a short season and at that point, the Trojans knew they would have to win the rest of the games to make the playoffs.
It was a hard week of practice and a hard week of school for Colt and the rest of the Trojans. JD was done for the season and the season was all in Colt’s hands. His teammates were unsure whether he could handle the task but Friday night was rolling around again and they had to prepare for the next opponent. That week the Trojans had an away game. They won in double overtime and Colt started to gain the respect of his teammates. By the end of the season, his teammates knew Colt was the “real deal” as they Trojans won the rest of their games.
The Trojans entered the playoffs as the second seed right behind the Independents. The Trojans sailed through the first three rounds of the playoffs. They were only one win away from the championship which was being held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
The semi-final game was against the Tampa Bay Bandits, their arch rival. By this time, the team fully trusted Colt. Colt was also very comfortable with his new team. This comfort allowed him to change the play at the line of scrimmage which helped the Trojans to score forty nine points against Tampa Bay. They didn’t need that many as they cruised to victory, 49-28.
As expected, the Trojans were playing the Independents in the finals. It was an extremely hard week for Colt because he was constantly being distracted by all of the interviews. He also had an extremely hard week of practice as the coaches were trying to figure out how to beat the aggressive defense of the Independence. As the team was riding to the game on Friday night, Colt was thinking about the year and how he no longer missed being in Pennsylvania. Although he still missed some of his friends, he found new friends in Florida.
The Trojans won the toss and decide to receive. The kick returner ran the kick off back to the thirty yard line. Colt looked over center. Coach had called a screen pass but he saw single coverage on JJ Jones, his quickest wide receiver. Colt changed the play. After the snap, he stepped back and through a bomb down the right sideline to JJ Jones. As he released the ball, the whole crowd stood and watched the ball land perfectly in JJ’s arms. JJ ran the last thirty yards for the games first touchdown. After that play, the Independent defense tightened up and did not allow the Trojans to score for the rest of the half. The independents did not score either and the half would end with the Trojans leading 7-0. The third quarter was scoreless too. The Trojans started with the ball in the fourth quarter. Colt stepped back to pass but was hit as he released the ball. The same cornerback who intercepted his pass in the first game did it again. He would return the interception to the twenty yard line with thirty seconds left. The Independents would snap their first play and would move the ball to the Trojans ten yard line with ten seconds left. The Independents would have one more play. Their quarterback stepped back to pass and lobbed the ball into the end zone towards their all-American wide receiver. The receiver jumped over the cornerback and grabbed the ball for a touchdown. The score was 7-6. The coach of the Independents was unsure about his placekicker and decided to go for two point conversion and the win.
The coach of the Independents called the same play as before, a lob pass to their best receiver. The Trojans were expecting this play and had the receiver double teamed. The quarterback threw it anyway. The receiver broke the double coverage but bobbled the football. As the ball was about to hit the ground he was able to get his hands underneath it for an incredible catch. The Trojans suffered a heartbreaking loss, 8-7.
As he was coming off the field, Colt was fighting back tears. He felt that his interception cost his team the state championship. Just then, the three captains walked next to him. Colt was expecting them to yell at him about the interception. Instead, they gave him a slap on the back and thanked him for doing such a great job to get the team to the championship and reminded him that there was always next year. They said that they would always remember the season and the young quarterback from Pennsylvania who took them all the way – almost. Just then, Colt realized that this was one of the best days of his life, even though they just lost.