Chapter Description: 2 new images added 9/22/23 Images for this story can be found at the following web...... https://sites.google.com/view/comedy-ars-characters/home
It was a tremendous feeling bursting out of the locker room and onto the field amid the cheering of the crowd (what little of it there was). I knew that some of these parents had to take off from their jobs to see us play in the afternoon.
Madeline and her cheerleading mates gave us a great routine waving their pom poms and throwing some brave girl in the air who hoped to be caught before landing on solid ground.
I pointed at Madeline in recognition, and gave another wave to Hoshiko and Sammantha in the stands.
While the coaches met with the refs, X led us for a few minutes of calistenics and stretching. I was so pumped, I was ready to jump out of my uniform. This was the moment I was waiting for … to actually play in a uniform for a real team.
I looked across the field, and sure enough, the tallest (and largest) player on the opposing team sported a number ‘2’ on the back of his jersey. I had no fear whatsoever of the guy with the fancy name ‘Liberty Fabian’. I wanted to crash into him bad.
Since there are no kickoffs in our middle school district, Gacey started on offense from their own 35 yard line. The first play was no surprise, a 10 yard pass to Mister 2 on the right side. Although Showkat’s speed kept up with him, he couldn’t match up in height. ‘Two’ easily reached above our guy’s head to haul it in … and then he looked at me.
I remembered the contact drills where I pancaked our assistant coach and I was bearing down on the receiver. ‘Two’ lowered his shoulder as if he were intending to bash into me, so I did the same.
I expected our meeting to be like a couple of bullets hitting each other in mid-air … But the result was one-sided. I wrapped him up, pushed him back, and threw his body to the ground … with a nice applause from the crowd … although they had gained 15 yards on us.
I should have been pleased with myself, but something felt wrong. My tackle just seemed too easy considering who my opponent was. Why would Mister 2 be trying to bait me on the first play?
The second play gave me the answer. It began identical to the first. ‘Two’ caught the ball over Showkat’s head and then lowered his shoulder aiming at me. I was more than eager to crash into him again … but this time, it didn’t happen.
At the last possible split second, ‘Mister Two’ made a spin move that left me grasping at a large pocket of air. Then he ‘stiff-armed’ my fellow safety, Tou Young, and took off down the field. Showkat gave chase and finally dove at him at the 5 yard line, but to no avail.
We were down 6-0 and the two-point conversion to you-know-you made it 8-0. I wasn’t feeling down, but just angry at myself for getting faked out … or ‘taking the bait’. The only one who blamed me was me.
I called to my coach, “Can I double cover Mister 2 ?”
“Stay in your zone, Adams!” he yelled back. (I wasn’t happy about that. I didn’t know if any of us could cover this guy on our own.)
But we were now on offense and things started out well. Though three guys on our line were undersized, Big-O and Goro were able to open up big holes on the right side for our speedster, Showkat … and we ran for gains of 7, 9, and 8 yards … in succession.
Okay, so we were doing good with ‘student body right’. Now we would try ‘student body left’. X told Big-O to line up on the left side of the line. I was totally stunned that Coach Parker allowed Captain X to call his own plays in the field.
Since I was the left side receiver, I had to make damn sure to block out the kid guarding me. Big-O and Goro ‘pulled left’, and along with the tight end, Grey Wolf and the three formed a great wall to break out Showkat for 30 yards.
We were in the ‘red zone’ now, on our opponents 20 yard line.
“28 !” X called my number in the huddle and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I didn’t think they would call on a rookie so soon.”
“Naked reverse!” (I wouldn’t have to actually be naked like I was with my two female teachers.) “Same as last play, Derrek, whole team goes left, only I flip to you and you go around right. If the field is clear, take it to paydirt. Power clap on 3 … 1,2,3, Go Nads!”
I had to get this right no matter what. Goro snapped the ball to X and the play was on … Like clockwork, I took the flip from X and ran all the way to the right side of the field past Putz who was blocking out his guy.
But the white Gacey jerseys were closing in on me fast. The reverse worked but only gave me a half second lead. I made a quick glance to my left, and saw Mister 2 closing in on me. I was determined to head for the pylon in front corner of the end zone.
It was at the 8 yard line when I felt a brutal punch to my right tricep. I lost all feeling in my right arm and the ball popped out. My Humerus bone ached mightily. I hoped it wasn’t broken. This was not a football move. This is what Sammantha would have called a ‘public mugging’.
While I was momentarily ‘seeing stars’, Mister 2 picked up the ball and ran it back down the field toward the other end. I don’t know how they caught up with him, but the trio of Putz, Showkat, and X managed to drag him down just 20 yards from another TD.
Instead of succeeding with my reverse, Mister 2 had reversed the field on us with a 68 yard runback. Coach Parker saw the knuckle punch and was screaming at the refs.
“You CAN’T use your fist to PUNCH another player!!! You didn’t see that?!!
X saw it too and came by to ask me if I was alright.
I told him, “I am royally pissed! There’s no fucking way I’m coming out of this game.”
Gacey had the ball on our 20, and Coach Parker made a switch that had Putz guarding ‘Two’. Putz could match up in height but ‘Two’ was still a bit faster and ran great routes.
I didn’t care. I was fed up. The ‘thrill’ of wearing a uniform and playing for a school had faded. I smelled revenge. I was going ‘rougue’ and I didn’t care if my coach pulled me off the field for disobeying his orders.
No, I wasn’t going to punch Mister 2 … It was something else … The dream play that had rattled inside my head my entire life was about to make its debut. The whole idea was baiting the quarterback. I just hoped he planned to stick with the success of playing pitch-and-catch with his talented receiver.
When the Gacey offense came up to the line, I dropped to the ground as if I looked like I was going to do a pushup. Then I crabbed-walked several yards to my left and the quarterback never saw me. But Putz did.
When the ball was snapped, Putz made sure to guard the sideline, coaxing ‘Two’ to head toward the center of the field. The QB saw a wide open receiver and hurled a perfect spiral to within 3 inches of Mister 2’s fingers.
I gave myself barely enough time and room to leap as high as I could to snatch the ball with my extended left hand. (I knew I could do this because of all the years I spent in back-yard baseball. I was right handed, so I caught everything with my left hand.)
The quarterback never saw me. When I stepped in front of his star player and robbed him of the ball, I could hear the QB yell, ‘What the fuck?!’ … And he must have been pretty stunned because he didn’t try to chase me down.
The entire Gacey team was practically frozen in place, none believing that Mister 2 could be outplayed on a high pass. It must have never happened before because once I was 10 yards past them, they just watched me run the ball back 90 yards for a touchdown.
I was in dreamland during those 90 yards. I couldn’t believe it either. I could have stopped at the one yard line and waited till the clock expired for the first half. Only my teammates decided to chase me.
Wow, so this is what althletes feel when the crowd is cheering, the cheerleaders are cheering, the marching band was playing the school fight song, and all your teammates mob you in the end zone.
The whole feeling was powerful and intoxicating … a real ego booster. I know that people say ‘Revenge is a dish that is best served cold’ … but it’s also fun. And I knew that we weren’t done dealing with Mister 2.
I wasn’t expecting an end zone celebration, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why X would pick an Australian sports cheer … but it sure was catchy … and both our team and our fans got into it.
(X): "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd and team: "Oi! Oi! Oi!"
(X): "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd and team: "Oi! Oi! Oi!"
Crowd and team: "Oi!"
Crowd and team: "Oi!"
(X) (faster): "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"
Crowd and team (equally fast): "Oi! Oi! Oi!"
When we got back to the bench, Coach Parker yelled at me, “Adams, I told you to stay in your zone!”
Then he lifted me off the ground and said, “That was the greatest play I’ve ever seen a seventh grader make in my entire career! You get a bonus for that. I want you to run the ball in for the two-point conversion. X knows the play. He’ll handoff and you just follow your blockers wide right and you just get the ball inside the corner pylon.
It sounded like another ‘student body right’ play, and I was determined to bash my way in no matter what. My left upper arm was still sore, but to hell with that. I wanted to be a stone-cold mercenary.
I lined up in the backfield to the left of Showkat. He would be my closest blocker.
X took the snap and turned to flip me the ball. I cradled it in my right arm follwed the thundering herd of re-shirted Nads toward the front corner of the end zone. Every blocker did his job … but it still left the linebacker, Mister 2, with a clear shot at my body.
I lowered my shoulder, preparing for the worst. But the other guy lowered his even more. The fucking asshole wanted to break both my knee joints. I had already decided that I didn’t like Mister 2 … He was a dirty player, and I had to take that into account.
One advantage I had was a dumpster full of TV sports memories bumping around in the back of my brain. One of the best was a play by Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis from years ago when faced a similar situation against an Atlanta Falcon defender and went ‘high hurdles’ on him, leaping so high, the guy never touched him.
Now it was my turn … and when ‘Two’ dove for my knees, I went verticle as high as I could, with one of my cleats landing on his back (which was legal) … and I fell forward over the goal line to tie the game 8-8.
I felt nasty. I had smug satisfaction at seeing what I did to this kid called ‘Liberty Fabian’. Oh, he was angry for sure … and too stupid to realize that I could hear him telling his quarterback, “Get me the ball! Get me the fuckin’ ball on the next play!”
As per rule, Gacey started their offense on their own 35 yard line. Could they possibly be so dumb as to try the exact same play just because Mister 2 said so?
The answer was ‘yes’, they were so dumb. The ball was snapped. The QB took three steps back, and once again, Putz forced ‘Two’ to the center of the field … and from the last play, I knew exactly how far away I could be from him when the quarterback threw the ball … and still have time to intersect his path.
“GOD DAMMIT!!” Mister 2 screamed at me when I snatched the ball out of his grasp again with my left hand.
Me and ‘Two’ had similar speed, and this time he trailed me by just 3 yards as we approached the 10 yard line.
I make no excuses for playing like an animal. This is football, right? At the 10 yard line, I stopped on a dime, turned 180 degrees, and launched my left shoulder pad into Mister 2’s breadbasket (his stomach.) (This was also a legal play).
Although it counted as a tackle, I had left my opponent on the ground heaving and gasping for air. I know what it’s like to have the wind knocked out of you. My opponent had to sit out the next play while his coach gave him smelling salts.
Putz patted me on my helmet and said, “Good job … He’s a prima dona asshole. He deserved it.”
I think Captain X was impressed with my play because he called my number again.
In the huddle, X said, “Derrek and Putz, listen up. Without ‘Two’ at middle linebacker, the center of their backfield is weak. I want you guys to run the hook-and-ladder. Putz, you run a slant toward the center, I hit you … At the same time, Derrek, you run toward Putz and he’ll lateral the ball to you … and you take it in. Power clap on 3 … 1,2,3, Go Nads!”
(Worked like a charm.) The Gacey linebackers and safeties were totally baffled, and my run into the end zone was a cake walk. I couldn’t believe it. A rookie like me had scored my team’s first two touchdowns of the season.
It was starting to feel like old hat. We were invincible. X led another round of ‘Ausie, Ausie, Ausie’ … and a few seconds later, he gave the ball to Big-O to carry it 3 more yards for the 2 point conversion.
The Nads now led 16 to 8 … and I would have to say that it was the intimidation factor that carried our team to a 32 -14 victory in our first game of the season.