Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fourth and Goal

Senior year was what Jake Richards had been waiting for his entire life, that and standing on the football field. High School had revolved around football, he had remembered plays, practiced daily leaving sweat and blood on the field, and spend his entire off season training, and here he was in the state championship game as the starting running back for the team that he had played for since he could walk. It was the end of the fourth quarter and his team was down by three points. The coach had called time out after the last play and he knew well that this would be the last play of the game and the last play of his high school career.

They were lined up on the two yard line and all it was going to take would be one little push but it was now fourth and goal and with no time or timeouts, this was the last shot. Jake huddled up with the young men that he had spent most of his childhood with playing on the field and they came together as one unit listening to their quarterback the golden boy, Stan Philips.

He looked at everyone and then around like he was making direct eye contact with each and every one of them then he looked to the center and said, “Twenty-one dive; on one, on one, ready break.” There was no fluent speech or motivational boost, the message was read from his eyes and everyone knew what they needed to do.

They all clapped together and headed for the line, Jake’s nerves were now on fire as he took his place in the backfield. The ball was coming to him. His coach had chosen him to carry the ball the last two yards over the line to win the game, the thought was starting to sicken him and he did his best to focus.

The linemen took their places and the gap that would soon be Jake’s road to victory now formulated in front of him. They would block and he would find it. The quarterback walked up and started yelling as if to tell everyone what to expect and what he saw. Voices were tense and loud to speak over the obnoxious din that was echoing from their opponent’s side.

While they were a few yards away and behind facemasks Jake could hear them as they snarled and growled. The linebackers were poised and ready, a few of them yelled out like they knew what was called and where to expect to go.

Jake took a deep breath and settled his feet behind Stan then allowed himself to become still and calm. He zoned out the noises across the field and only heard his quarterback as the cadence began. The front line dropped their hands on their knees, and then they placed their hands on the ground. And finally the ball moved.

In an instant Jake was running forward to his quarterback and taking the handoff. The line had opened the hole and he sprung forward with only one adversary in his way. Jake was at full speed as was the linebacker, the only person that could stand in his way. The time on the clock had run out and all relied on his arms reaching the ball across the line. It was completely up to him.

Like a steam powered train the linebacker ran toward him with his breath visibly pouring with chilled vapors from the November air. The collision was eminent and as he wrapped his arms around the middle of the halfback he did everything in his power to stop him. He too was trying to be the savior of the game and like two titans they clashed on the line pushing to achieve their own agendas.

Finally with one last gut wrenching push of all of his might and a twist of his body, Jake powered into the linebacker and crossed the ball over the line. His arm clutched the ball to his chest and didn’t let go but the rest of his body gave way as he fell into the end zone. He knew that he had reached his goal and he no longer had the power to even try to stand any further. Surrounded by cheering, screaming, and tears of his opponents, Jake laid on the ground completely alone, the pressure, the practice, the constant pressure was finally gone. He lay on the fresh cut, painted grass and for the first time he could actually smell the way that the field smelled after the mower made its cut, it was beautiful.

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