Greatness: A Tale of True Brotherhood

February 25, 2009
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As the sun began to set and the hum of the giant lights at either end of the field mixed with the steady thump of the rap music playing in the background, the goose bumps began to crawl along my arm and up my skin. The newly cut and painted grass sent an aroma of freshness up into my nostrils and shot adrenaline through my veins. As I sat in the front with the captains leading stretches, a familiar hand patted my helmet. 'You've been waiting for this for three years', Coach Muehlberger's steady voice said, pausing for a second. 'Go take it.' This was the scene before the second ever district football game in school history.A game which had so much emotion and meaning built up behind it, against the one team that we had been gunning for since they had mocked us for thinking we could play at their level just one short year ago. This was the Piper game.

As I strapped on my pads and smoothed out all the wrinkles in my proudly dawned silver jersey, the electricity of what was about to unfold crept up my spine and into my brain. From there it flowed throughout me. The clash and relentlessness of competition pulsed throughout me as if I had been injected with a vaccine. A vaccine meant to change a calm man of seventeen years old into a hitting machine. An unstoppable force that would go through walls to win a single game of high school football. Especially this game. As we bowed our heads to pray, my voice was gruff and sharp. I spoke the words, but only with my mouth. My heart was already out there. My mind was already going over every possible piece of information I would utilize within the next few hours. God would understand. It was all for him in the end anyway.

As the other three captains and myself held hands and confidently strode to the middle of the field for the coin toss, the look on one of the Pirates captains faces when I shook his hand told me all I needed to get a jolt He seemed to be amused, even laughing internally, at the thought of playing us. One short quarter later, I would put a powerful, bone crushing cease to that grin worn by the quarterback. And I would do it all night long. After opening kickoff, our defense shut down the Pirates three-and-out. Then we went to work, scoring on a long run by Ben Reynoldson that first drive. The euphoria of that first score was something I will never forget. As I looked around at people, I said to myself, 'this ones ours. All ours.' And then we just kept going. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 20-0. In the second, one of my most defining moments occurred. As the undeservedly over-jubilant quarterback of the purple wearing Pirates dropped back to pass, he got an unexpected present. A 240-pound, resentment driven linemen who had been waiting to remove that smirk all night long. That was one of my three sacks that night, and it was one of my most defining moments that season.

At halftime, the energy in the locker room was off the wall. Jeers were thrown around about the Pirates, and it was truly an experience to remember. And yet in the midst of that entire time, the one thing I remember is Coach coming up to me and saying 'Lead them well, don't let them think we have this without a fight.' Sure enough, after going up 23-0 on a field goal in the opening drive, things started to deteriorate. We had gotten far too comfortable, and the Pirates took control, bringing the score all the way to a 23-20 game in the final minute, even down to the very last second. And who was chosen to try and make the kick to send it to overtime? That smirking jerk from the coin toss, the same one I had laid the wood too just a few short quarters ago. When his kick didn't leave the ground, I was overcome with such euphoric emotion, it was almost more than I could take. We had beaten them and we had a shot at State.

As I looked around me and ran to hug all my teammates, I realized that they had become much more than a couple of guys I played a game with. We had bonded, and we were part of something much more significant now. From time to time I watch the film from that game. I see a lot of mistakes, a lot of missed opportunities, but mostly I see something I will never forget. When you actually acquire something you have striven after for such a long period of time, after so much effort and pain put into it'truly there nothing better. I will always remember the Piper game.

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Chris L. said...
Apr. 7, 2009 at 3:55 am
balex49 said...
Apr. 7, 2009 at 3:29 am
chris that is a great story and one of my favorite memories of my high school football career
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