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Guarenteed Nine Games


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Before I started junior year it seemed like any other, only this time I am one year closer to graduation. I entered junior year a one sport athlete but by the end of it I was a playing, football, swimming, and track. I tended to always be a bigger person, with above average strength, so my friends constantly asked me to join football with them. I ended up not being bad. I started JV over two people who have played longer than me and it became a new passion. Even though I didn’t start on varsity, it was something new that I found I loved and became good at besides swimming. Now is my senior year, and I need it to be something worth remembering.

All summer I lifted weights and ran with other players hoping to be better than the year before. The first few practices rolled around and I tried my best to showcase my improvements in order to get a spot on the roster. To the coaches, I wasn’t anything special it seemed. They never bothered to give me a second look; I was just another number on the team. For the first week and season opener we played Columbia River and like everyone else I wanted to win, bad! Unfortunately, I was third string defensive tackle, which means I should expect no playing time, I wanted to be starting offense anyways. I didn’t complain though, instead I was positive and supportive as we went into the game. A good fight was kept until River got up by two touchdowns, then the team began to lose that confidence. When we lost I felt guilty because I didn’t contribute, but it’s not my fault that I couldn’t do anything about the situation.

Even though we lost we had to look up and prepare for the next week, which was to play Kelso. That also meant a new week to try and prove myself. Except for the fact that someone could not attempt such a challenge if no back ups were allowed to substitute in on rotation, because Coach Lutz only wanted starters. It was all unfair. The week went by without me getting any reps and there we were on the bus to play that Friday. I didn’t expect anything to really change since I had no experience coming into this game, then I heard my name from the defensive coordinator, “Ben go in for Jessie next series”! Really? Not only am I going in but I’m going in for a whole series? As I got ready for the play to start, I positioned myself in my alignment, in my head I prepared for what was to come, then the snap came. Flying towards the linemen head up over me, I pushed his arm that was aiming at my throat back down, and with my left arm squeezed around his back side. My club and rip worked(one of my techniques). Through my progressions, I got low waited for the ball, once it cut back my way I assisted in the tackle with the other defensive linemen I was in with. The feeling that goes through you after you prevent the gain of yards is hot energy, like I could take on the team by myself. The energy drained though when my name was being yelled by Mason, “BEN, SUB”! I just made the tackle for loss, why am I being taken out especially when Gardner the D-line coach said I could have a whole series? Did you see what I just did? What I could do potentially for the rest of the game? Of course you didn’t. I wasn’t mad though, we got the win.

Brushing off my playing time and being cut short I got my head ready for the week coming up. We had to play Enumclaw who had the same record as us. Coach Hathaway said they weren’t a team to be joked around with, they were good, which also meant that week of practice was going to be hell. When Hathaway gets a little nervous, he pressures the team so hard to remain focused at all times. Being a backup means scout teams, which are terrible to be on. You are voluntarily being offered to simulate a punching for the starters. Other backups besides myself had it harder than I did. Scout was a challenge but I won the fight more times than lost, however I never got a shot to play offense. I figured that the coaches picked their favorite players by then and accepted the fact that their minds don’t really stray from their decisions. It took three hours on a school bus full of short tempered, obnoxious, football players and coaches put all the linemen on one bus. Meaning that every ten minutes or so someone would yell, “Coach when are we going to get our food?” We arrived at a sold out stadium in this small town where there were roughly 2500 people already there. I knew I wouldn’t get in on the first half of the game so I sat back and watched my team struggle. At the half the score was 0 to 35. The fourth quarter came around and Gardner finally subbed me in for five or six plays. Out score was then 7, the rival's 41. The defensive line was doing our job very well. We demanded the other team to pass because we plugged all the holes, leaving the coverage to the corners in the back field. We ended up losing there was no cliché enlightening moment of a team coming together in the last minutes to get the win for us.

Quitting is something that crossed through my mind over and over, I was exhausted of being let down and walking away disappointed from not getting any playing time. The upcoming week, Hathaway mentioned the team being split into two groups, a green and a purple. This will give scout teams a better look so the starters don’t walk completely over them. Purple group consisted of seniors and starters and the list was posted outside the coaches’ office. “Ben J” was highlighted in green. I made a promise that felt more like a vow. A vow to prove that I can do something for the good of this team! While I was with the green group coaches had us do play installation and the first play was a Georgia, one of the best plays to run as a guard. My job as a guard on the left was to pull. I got ready, eyed down my target, and broke down how this play was going to go before even getting into my stance. One-thousand-one, the ball was snapped and my inside foot was turned straight down the line of scrimmage aiming right behind the rest of the line. One-thousand-two, shoulders square with the line now, accelerating down while remaining low. One-thousand-three, after running to the opposite guard he was there, crossing my face without a clue that I am going to take him out of this play. One-thousand-four, placed my facemask in his rib cage, lift up and drive hips through, and brought back down on his back. It was a de-cleater, and that defensive end looked scared out of his mind. The play was over and I could hear Lutz the offensive line coach, yelling I wasn’t sure if it was positive or negative right away, but finally I could see the shock in his face. As his mouth, and the other three coaches in charge of the green groups mouths were still left open. Every play I took someone out. I even took one of the players completely out, I hit him so hard he sat out for the rest of the session.

That practice ended while everyone was on a knee in the center of the field, Coach proceeded to give all his announcements and like always, asked the other coaches if they wanted to say something. Both Lutz and Coach Hawthorne shared, “Ben had a hell of a practice on offense”. Hathaway seemed surprised to hear my name but then said, “Hmm, he is a guy we need to look at more then”. Finally I got everyone’s attention and acknowledgement, but I wasn’t done I still needed to gain that starting spot.



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