My Play

May 3, 2010
By David Haddad BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
David Haddad BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

We have all heard the stories from our elders. “There were three seconds left and we were down by 4. Everybody on the team was looking up to me. I took the snap and threw that ball 60 yards on a rope to my wide-out. That pass won us the 10 and Under, Junior-Junior-Varsity, B-Team Championship.” Every old man has their heroic sports story, and every old man recounts it aloud to any living organism with an attention span long enough. Then we, the young listeners always do the same routine: we nod, we smile, and we walk away. Then we roll our eyes, we assume that it is 98% exaggerated, and we pray we never hear it again. Yet, little do we know, that will be us some day, telling the same story to anyone who will pretend to listen. As for me, I already have my story picked out.

It was a chilly November day and my JV team was playing in the Championship. Flash forward to the fourth quarter; there’s three and a half minutes left, and my team is up 8-6. The other team was breathing down our necks, with the ball on our 10 yard line. We had managed to slow them down for three plays creating a 4th and goal. This is where my story takes place.

My team circled behind the ball, awaiting the defensive calls. They looked tired and beaten, with their heads hung low and their chests heaving. I could barely hear the crowd. My intense focus and disgust blocked everything from my ears. I had grown tired of our lack of defensive effort, so I stepped into the huddle and called my team out;

”Where is the defense? It’s gone! Where is the tackling? It’s gone! Let’s go! Stop them!”

What I said I had stolen from the most make-fun-able line from my very well-known and very infamous forensics speech about a Native American who likes nature. There were a few hollow half-laughs. Leave it to David to make jokes at a time like this. I was barely joking, though. Even though the words that came from my mouth were satirical, I was stone serious.

We strolled to our spots and I dug into my four-point stance at the strong-side nose tackle position of our six-man line. My fingers dug into the Martorelli turf, feeling the small, black tire chips against my finger, as the burrowed through the fake grass. I stared at the man in front of me. I can still remember his curly black hair and dark features. I peered down to the quarterback, who began barking his cadence. I bit down on my mouth guard in nervousness. It was as if time and sound stood still. I couldn’t bear to wait for the snap any longer. It was now or never.

In an instant, the ball was snapped. I saw the quarterback drop back to throw, and I locked in on him. I took a quick slanted step to my right, through the center-guard gap. I blew right by man (who to this day, I cannot remember getting even a weak push on me) and ran toward the quarterback. He cocked his arm to throw a screen pass – the same play they had already run two times for about 60-some yards. Instead of diving into his side, which would be the much prettier play, I made the split decision to just get the job done as efficiently as I could. I extended both arms and slammed them down on his throwing arms as he thrust it forward, stopping it cold. I heard him make an exasperated grunt as we made contact. Music to my ears. The balls floated upwards, then harmlessly to the ground, several yards away. Turnover on downs.

I popped up in excitement and was immediately swarmed by my team. They embraced me, slapping me on the helmet and hugging me in celebration. The sounds that I had been blocking out up to that point began to reach my ears: cheers from the spectators, yelps from my teammates, and even cries from myself. I managed to restrain myself from dancing and over-celebrating. I tasted a hint of victory in the air, as well as an overcoming feeling of joy. I had made a difference.

Unfortunately, our celebration was short-lived. After a series of mishaps, they got the ball back and scored. We were unable to answer after. Nonetheless, (as selfish as it may sound) from that game, I took a lasting memory, and a story to ramble about when I’m an old man.

P.S. - Thank you for the opportunity to brag.

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