I’ve played football for seven years and all I’ve really wanted is to carry the football into the endzone, to score a touchdown. But, being a lineman, I’ve never really had the opportunity. And then, finally, I had the chance in seventh grade.
I had been playing well all season, showing off how fast and strong I could be. I would make little cut moves when I was fooling around with my friends when I had the ball, All in hopes that the coaches would notice. I would tell my friends that I could do it, that if I had the football I could take it all the way. It was eight weeks in, and I was about to give up. I was about to accept that I would never get the ball and I would never score. And that’s when my coach gave me a shot
He told me that I could run the ball. He said, with a fair amount of resignation, the play and and how to run it. I got set next to the other backs. They looked at me with a mix of confusion and amusement. I mustered my best shot at a cool grin; but in reality, my heart was about to jump out of my chest.
The quarterback began to call out the cadence as I prepared myself. DOWN! my heart thumped harder than I thought could be possible. READY! I look down at my hand, saw the it was shaking and let out a slow breath. SET! A bead of sweat rolls slowly down between my eyebrows, there was no time to wipe it away,I almost had to - GO!!
I leapt forwards, as the quarterback rotated backwards with the ball in his hands. In the last remaining minutes of light, it looked dull and unimportant, but to me, that ball was everything I wanted for myself. I raced towards the quarterback, my arms in perfect position to receive the ball. And then, it was in my hands and it wasn’t the ball that was my focus, but the hole. A perfect gap between two blockers, with no linebackers in it, it was all I could dream of. And then,to my horror, I watched as the hole began to close. The lineman, briefly promoted to replace me, had been pushed backwards, right where I was going to run. I tensed up, look for somewhere to run. I glanced left, and then right. I saw two opponents closing in on either side, I didn’t have much time. I dashed towards the original hole, praying that the lineman could hold for just one more second.
But he couldn’t. He was shoved backwards once more just I was crossed the line of scrimmage. For a second, I was through. I burst through the line and all I saw was green. My heart soared, it was coming true. And then I felt a firm tug as my back foot caught on the lineman’s leg. I lurched forwards and down and my shoulder slammed into the hard packed earth. I rolled onto my back and shook my head. As I stood up, all I heard was laughter. The kid who said he could run the ball had tripped and fallen.
With the “clumsy linemen” stereotype filled, I didn’t even bother looking up at my coach to see if I could run it again. I just shook off the dust and tapped out the backup linemen, preparing myself to help someone else run the ball.