November 18, 2009
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Depending on the situation someone could easily breakdown or succeed when they are put under pressure. The way you react to that pressure shows a lot of what kind of person you are. We were taught as team to start strong and finish strong, do your job and trust your teammates that they will all do their individual responsibility. “Don’t do someone else’s job.” coach would tell us before each game. The team is like a family of brothers and no matter what “ You always are there for your brothers,” but tonight we didn’t play like brothers, we played as if football was a one man sport.

Preparing for a game is probably the most important part of the game besides the actual game. It doesn’t start the day of the game or the day before. It starts right after the win on the Friday night the week before. Silence hit’s the locker room before every game and its usually filled with excitement and joy after the game. Tonight was different. Boys were excited before the game and not thinking about the game at all. It was as if we worked so hard to prepare for this game all week and for some reason it was ok to take a break a few hours before the game. It seemed like they had already won and they were going home from a win, but what they didn’t know was the game didn’t even start yet.
The night went on and everyone continued on their laughing and messing around when we were all suppose to be preparing mentally for the start of our playoff experience. I went on to the field with Taylor to throw the ball around for a bit so that we could get a feeling of catching and so that we can talk. We walked on to the field, the turf, the gridiron and no one was here yet. The lights were still dim and were slowly getting brighter as we walked on it.
“Matt,” Taylor said nervously “ you think we got this”.
“ if we come out strong.” I replied bluntly, knowing that we didn’t stand a chance because no one in that locker room was taking this game seriously.
“We need to put this on our shoulders tonight. We need to lead this team tonight.” he cried. “no one is taking this seriously so we need to do it. Its all on us.”
Not knowing what to say I nodded my head and replied with “As one baby. I got you on this.”
He looked up and said proudly “ AS ONE!.”

The night went on and the start of the game was full of crap. Missed blocks, missed tackles, bad reads, dropped passes, everything bad that could possibly happen to a team was happening to us. We choked. Interception goes for a touchdown and now the score is 14-0. “ Matt get a drink and then get your ass back in the game.” couch yelled as if he was going to kill me if said anything besides “ yes sir.” We marched down the field and kicked a field goal before the half.

Silence hit the locker room as we entered. No one was talking and everyone had their heads down. “SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING” Willie yelled as he got up and threw his helmet at the locker like it did something to him. “ Pick yo shit up ya’ll. Ya’ll scared? Pick yo shit up!” he continued to yell. Sitting their listening to one of my teammates cry for help from the rest of the team, I got up. Throwing my helmet “ GET UP! Everyone get up. Lets get this shit going and lets start playing ball. We are going to go out there and kick their ass and we are going to have fun doing it. AS ONE! On three. One, two, three AS ONE! The team roared so loud that it filled the entire school.

We went out and played our game. Fewer mistakes had gotten us back into the game and we played harder. The harder we played the more and more we can smell the fear from there team. It was a fight to the end and although we had come short at the end of the game we played hard. Walking in to the locker room at the end of the game it was more of touching moment. Boys crying, I love you’s going out to each player form other players. Inspirational speeches were said and more tears fell. Sitting there not crying and looking at everyone that was , I got up stuck my hand out to Taylor and said “ thanks for the best season bro. and for having my back.” A hug was shared and tears slowly fell my eyes as he squeezed me so tight and said, “ Thanks for moving here. Thanks for being there bro.”

I was then inspired to hear it one last time, “Everyone get up. AS ONE on three. One, two, three AS ONE! The night went on and it was harder and harder for me not to cry. Sitting there thinking to myself “ That was my last high school football game.” The feeling of the locker room began to be sad as everyone slowly took there pads off. All the seniors were being thanked by the under classman. We sat there for about two hours and just reminisced on the times we had together. The room soon began to get emptier as the night went on. The under classman had all left and still in the locker room were all the seniors sadden by the lost. We sat there and it was quiet. No one said a word it was as if we were at a funeral and they were just beginning to lower the body in to the ground. The feeling of lost hopes and dreams of repeating another state championship were gone. We slowly began leaving the locker room knowing that we would never return. As each senior left the locker room we tapped the PRIDE sign and left wishing we would be going back on Monday for practice but knew we weren’t.

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