Yough, I can’t stand this team. I played this team every single year since my 7th grade, a lot of our players personally knew some of their players, but not in a positive way. I was more than satisfied in my performance against washington, but I was upset that we were out of the playoff hunt. Times likes these after an emotional loss, someone has to pay and I might as well make it Yough. Some guys just have a hard time staying motivated when everything we’re playing for disappears like smoke. I’ll admit, I was a victim a couple times when I was younger. I remember times we were down 40 or more points at the half and there was always some idiot shouting out, “Play for pride!” Pride? I can’t even wear my letterman jacket out in public because it would attract questions about our record, “Oh we’re 1 and 8, or 4 and 6.” So many times I wish I could say I was a member of some prestigious football team or some huge WPIAL contender, but no, I’m stuck here at Southmoreland. Eventually, I learned that it’s far more important of where you go instead of where you’re from.
This last game would be a test of my pride as well as my teammates. Some would pass, others would fail, miserably. There was 13 seconds left in the second quarter, they were already up 32 to 7. They had possession on their own 30 yard line and both teams were gathered near their sideline because of a timeout. I remember one of our coaches saying, “Only thirteen seconds left! You just have to hold them for that long.” I immediately remember an unsettling feeling come over me. Playing against the clock is one of the most hardest things to do in football. The Human mind uses the body’s own heartbeat as a reference point to count, so in the middle of a play when their heart is running a thousand miles an hour, their perception of the speed of time is flawed. Regardless, they’re on their own 30 yard line, what could they possibly do to score? I could blame a lot of things on the next play, but all of that is irrelevant now. They pitched the ball away from my side of the field and managed to make it around the corner containment, 70 yards later the score was 39 to 7. I could hear their fans antagonizing us, I was angry, I wanted to take something innocent and beautiful and destroy it. Sitting in the locker room was no cakewalk, I was sick of everything, I was sick of being yelled at for things that weren’t my responsibility, I was sick of playing with some guys who didn’t care. Now do not misunderstand me, so many players on that team bled and gave everything, but some didn’t care. You cannot pick anyone out by watching the game tapes, but it’s what’s behind the scenes that really matters. As soon as the usual halftime shout was over I strapped up and trekked out of the locker room. I pitied the man that would be lining up from across from me in the second half.
The second half was much different, they couldn’t stop us, but unfortunately we still couldn’t get containment and stop them as well. I started to shut out of score of the game, almost like I was in my own little private universe with the man over me. All I cared about was running that person over. Our team started making drastic position changes, I was eventually moved around to get containment on the edge. I began to notice that Yough started to do the same thing, the defensive lineman that lined up against me kept changing every series. On one series, they put this huge 6’8″, 280lb player up against me. I wondered why they didn’t do this from the beginning of the game. I love going against guys bigger than me, I feel like I have some moral obligation to the short(er) people in the world to level this guy. They would’ve been proud of that block. After 4 quarters we came up close making it 45 to 37 them, but ended up losing 52 to 37. I was done, my career was finally over, finally. In that game I learned that some people will let you down, and sometimes there is nothing you can do to stop it. As I was walking off the field toward the locker room I noticed an older man with a Yough football T-shirt knifing his way through the large crowd of Southmoreland players headed directly for me. When he got to me he shouted out, “Son, listen, we threw everything we had at you.” I replied back with a smirk, “Seemed like it.” He continued, “Yeah, but it didn’t matter, you were unstoppable.” My smirk shifted to a genuine smile as I realized he wasn’t antagonizing me, but sincerely complimenting me. I thanked him and he responded, “Good luck in college son.” He reached out and shook my hand then quickly turned around and headed back to the Yough team locker room. I knew that I was physically capable of playing football in college, but I honestly never looked at it literally, it was always in the back of my mind until now.
As much as I wanted to be done with Southmoreland football, I wasn’t. Our coaches asked if we wanted to play a 10th game. I immediately said that I didn’t want to, I think the concept of a 10th game is pathetic and I was ready for it to be over. Over in the sense that I have another season to start preparing for, but a majority of our seniors voted to play so we continued the season by another game. Instead of playing that Friday night in the playoffs, we played on a Thursday night, for nothing. The only people at this game was family, but the big highlight was that we finally ran “quick toss left” successfully. Quick Toss left was a nice slick play, but somehow, every single time we ran during the season there was a blitz, or fumbled snap that always turned it into a busted play. In the 3rd quarter we were on our own 40 yard line, there was a timeout and we were gathered near the sideline. Coach Pritts leaned in and asked us, “Ok, What play do you guys want to run?” Almost as soon as he finished asking I blurted out, “Quick Toss Left! It hasn’t worked all year, bout time it does.” Right then, everyone looked at me like I was an idiot, but I didn’t care, if the play whiffed again, so what. However, this time it didn’t whiff, this time it went 60 yards to the house. As I ran down field to the endzone, I made sure I shouted out a plethora of boastful expletives to Coach Pritts standing on the sideline. We ended up winning 42 to 19, I was so sore for school the next day and was one of the few on the team who actually went.
I took my usual 1 week off and then it was time to hit the gym, my bench and squat weren’t at what they should be and I needed to start getting ready for Metro Index and other college combines. A few weeks later I was sitting in my trigonometry class and the main office called for me. This is unusual, I never get called to the office, I’m a little worried something bad may have happened. When I got to the office I asked one of the secretaries working there what they needed me for. One of them pointed to the conference room that’s connected, through the window I noticed a man with glasses sitting by himself in a red polo shirt with a few magazines or programs laid out on the table. I noticed that Erik Frund just entered behind me as the office secretary said, “A football coach from Stony Brook is here to see you both.”
To be continued.