A Second Effort

December 2, 2008
By David Hourin, Austin, TX

Do you know what it feels like to have the greatest feeling in the world? No, its not the feeling of helping someone in need, or getting all A’s on your report card, or even kissing a girl. It’s a feeling a famous movie star can’t feel or the richest man in the world can’t feel. It’s the feeling of winning. The feeling of pure victory, knowing that you are better then your opponent. There are only a few moments in a person’s lifetime when he or she gets the chance to win the game and be a hero. This was one of those chances.

“Down…Set…Hut!” LCP’s Quarterback dropped back to pass. The wide receiver I was covering took off straight down the field. “He’s going deep,” I thought to myself. I started back pedaling, but then turned to run with the receiver when he reached me. I stayed with him, keeping a hand on his shoulder pads, my eyes glued to the quarterback the entire time. The receiver raised his hand, signaling the quarterback to throw the ball to him, as if he was open. I was on him like white on rice. But it didn’t matter. Jackson broke through the line and sacked the quarterback at the 15 yard line. I ran in from my position at cornerback and pounded Jackson on the helmet, joined by all of my teammates. I then ran back to the 30 yard line. It was fourth down; the Cougar’s were going to punt.

My 4th grade team was playing the LCP Cougars. The field was artificial turf, so all of my teammates and I thought we were big shots, like we were in the pros. It was the second quarter, with only 13 seconds left in game. We were down by six points, so we really needed a score to win the game. Everyone on my team was nervous, especially me, but we were pretty sure our running back Isaiah and our quarterback, who was me, could get the job done. Since Jackson sacked LCP’S quarterback at the 15 yard line, they were punting from their own goal line. Everybody lined up for the punt. The punter called out, “Hut!” and the center snapped the ball. I tensed as I saw the punter catch the snap, take two steps, drop the ball, and kick it. The clock started running.

It was good kick, especially for a fourth grader. He kicked it about 25 yards, so I should have caught the ball at the 25 yard line. But I didn’t catch it. I was standing at the 30 yard line, so the ball hit the turf 5 yards in font of me. I ran forward to scoop up the ball at the 25, but when the football hit the turf, it bounced. High. In fact, the ball bounced so high it bounced over my head. (Which wasn’t that high, on account of I was only 4 feet 8 inches.) 11 seconds left in the half. Panic swelled up inside of me as the ball flew just out my outstretched fingertips. Two defenders flew past me trying to get the football. Bad choice. I spun around as fast as I could, determined to field the ball cleanly this time. No such luck. The ball hit the turf on the other side of me and shot directly in between my legs. 10 seconds. More defenders flew past me going full speed. 9 seconds. Tears swelled up in my eyes. (I was in fourth grade, give me a break) I spun around again. The ball was sitting there, daring me to pick it up. 8 seconds. I hustled to where it lay, scooped it up, and starting running. But there was something wrong. The only problem was I didn’t have the ball in my hands. I had picked it up, and let it slide through my fingertips. The ball was live now. 6 seconds. LCP could have picked up the ball, ran for a touchdown, and I would have lost us the game. But it didn’t happen that way.

What happened was this. Instead of slowing down to pick up the football, the LCP defenders were going full speed, and running right past it, not realizing the football was sitting right in front of them. I noticed their mistake and sprinted for the ball. 5 seconds. When I picked it up this time at about the 24 yard line, I made sure to have a death grip on the ball. I tucked the football in my arms and looked up. Awesome. I defender twice as big as my fourth grade self was running full speed at me, like a 130 pound bowling ball rolling at an 85 pound pin. 4 seconds. He slammed into me full speed, causing me to stumble back, but I wasn’t going down that easily. The giant fell flat on his face after hitting me, but I stayed on my feet, and started running to the left side of the field at a dead sprint. 3 seconds.

Everyone was chasing me, even some of my teammates, trying to block for me. Everyone was probably yelling, too, but I couldn’t hear them. I was just focused on running. Two LCP defenders were gaining on me, determined not to let me reach the end zone. I shattered their hopes when I turned on the afterburners and raced ten yards ahead of them. 2 seconds. As I neared the sideline I turned up field and looked up, astonished. There was a clear 15 yard path to the end zone. I ran as fast as my little 10 year old legs could run, which was fast enough. Time ran out, but that didn’t matter now. I was heading straight for the end zone. Kids flew behind me, trying to get a hand on me, trying to slow me, down, but no one could. I ran full speed until I crossed the goal line, into the red and blue end zone. A cheer went up from my teammates and the crowd, which were only parents and siblings of course. I raised the ball over my head as my teammates ambushed me and even brought me to the ground. Everyone was screaming, pounding my helmet and back. Finally, until I thought they were going to suffocate me, they all peeled off of me. But the game wasn’t over yet.

The scored was tied, 20-20. We still had to convert the extra point. If you ran in the extra point, you got 1 point, and if you kicked it through the goalposts, you got 2 points. We didn’t have any good kickers, so we had to run it in. The offense huddled up. Everyone looked pretty nervous, but I had a strong feeling in my gut we were going to win this game. “We can do this, guys.” I said to my teammates. They still looked unsure, but they all seemed a little more excited. Hunter, our wide receiver ran into the huddle. It was his job to tell me the play Coach Dobson had chosen. “Blue 7,” he whispered in my ear. I scanned my wristband for play Blue 7. When I found it, I read it to my team. “I-Right, 22 Blast,” I said out loud. That meant I was going to hand the ball off to Isaiah, our best player, right up the middle, with Jackson, our fullback, lead blocking. It was smart to give the ball to Isaiah, he was one of the best running backs in Pop Warner, but I secretly wished Coach had called a pass or QB run. “All right guys, you all know what to do,” I said. “Now let’s go out there and win this game!” All of my teammates whooped and hollered. “On one. On one. Ready! BREAK!” We all broke the huddle and jogged to the line. I walked up to our center and squatted down. I checked to make sure everyone was ready, and then placed my hands under is butt. I looked up at the defense and gasped. They had their two line backers right up on the line of scrimmage, ready to blitz. One of them was right in the 2 hole, where the play was going. So I decided to change the play. “Ready,” I called out. “Down…Set…Hut!” The center snapped the ball into my hands. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see their linebacker break through the line, and stand right in the two hole. I knew that Jackson and Isaiah were running full speed at the two hole, but I didn’t have time to look. As soon as I got the snap, instead of turning around to hand the ball to Isaiah, I sprinted forward. Our center had chop-blocked the defensive lineman, so I hurtled them both. When I landed, I was on the one yard line. By that time, the safety for LCP had run up to the goal line, and was going full speed. I had a size advantage on the kid, so I wasn’t going to run around him. I took another step and dove.

The safety dove two, but not as high as me. We collided at about the ½ yard line, but he only collided with my legs. The next thing I knew my legs were over my head, so I stuck the ball out, hoping to get it over the goal line. My shoulders pads hit the turf first, but I didn’t know if I was in the end zone or not. The rest of my body followed my shoulder pads, and I rolled forward. I was laying on my back and made sure I had the ball in my hands. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that I did. I looked up and the saw the ref running out blowing his whistle, with his arms straight up in the air. I knew hat that signal meant, it meant a touchdown! Or in this case, a conversion. For the second time that day, my teammates ambushed me. But instead of tackling me, they all body-slammed me. Everyone was screaming their heads off, including me. Finally they all got off me, and helped me up. I handed the ball to the ref, and jogged to our bench. I looked up at the scoreboard. It said, Visitors 21, Home 20. A smile broke across my face. Coach Dobson grabbed me before I made it to the bench. “You changed the play, didn’t you?” he said to me, a huge smile plastered on his face. I looked down and said,”Yeah Coach, I did.” He let out a big laugh and left to congratulate the other players. I then jogged over to the bench, where I sat down, trying to catch my breath. I took my Revolution helmet off and grabbed a blue water bottle and squirted some into my mouth. I looked out onto the field and thought, “Wow.”

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece beacaue it is one of the greatest sports memories of my life. It was a day I felt like the hero. I thought it would make a good story that teens wanted to read because it's mainly about not giving up.

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This article has 2 comments.

Mrs. D said...
on Jan. 27 2009 at 9:46 pm
David, This is a outstanding work! You did such a great job explaining every moment. I felt like I was right there with you! Way to go!!!

Sand said...
on Jan. 25 2009 at 12:01 am
I'm so pround of you DH. You made the experience come alive!


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