Monday, November 19, 2018

Victory - Play by Play

Credit: Martin Fisch
Sideline, 12th Man

That moment, a split second where all realize that for that period in time who the vanquished are and who rules the day. The addictive adrenaline rush of pure victory

The smell of fresh cut grass in the humid late August heat did little to cover the stench of teenage males battling each other over inches in a game that none but the combatants cared about. Lucky for me I’m allergic to fresh cut grass so my bloody nose, cut that stench with a metallic sweetness. A sweetness that always awakened a part of my soul that was only legal to unleash between the sidelines on game day.

They broke their huddle.

Sauntering up to my line of scrimmage they settled in to their formation. Squatting down, I ease in to my three point stance, left foot slightly farther back. Bending over only extending my middle finger through the soft grass to the baked clay earth that lies beneath. Their end, my immediate foe, notices my slight and almost moves, almost off sides. I’ve got him. He’s mine. I own him. I am so in his head now that I can see where he wants to go, where the play is heading, wide left.

Sweep left. My edge, my corner, my end. In ten years of this game I’d only been beaten on the edge once, eight years ago. Vowing to myself to never be beat again to the outside I worked, studied, and did whatever it took to keep that promise to myself. I have never been beat since. I wouldn’t be beat now.

Their commander looks over the field of battle and settles in. No audible change to their plans as he is overconfident in their chances for success. Sorry sap doesn’t know that I know where they plan to attack, that I’m more than ready, that I’m going to shut them down in the most humiliating defeat they’ll ever suffer.

Salty sweat running in rivulets down my brow, the bridge of my nose, mingling with my blood, collecting on my upper lip then dropping to feed the thirsty field. I lick my lips in anticipation, projecting violence from my eyes to his. I can see the fear in his eyes now. I could wipe my nose, but the blood bothers him, another advantage, I’ll take it. No mercy.

Hu HUT hu HUTHUT he flinches, they go on three.

From a moment of silent steadiness in the late Summer heat there is straight acceleration to instant violence.

The play starts.

Reflexive instinct takes over, all those two a days pay off and my body moves up and sideways simultaneously. They try to double me. Two on one, hardly fair for them. My corner, my edge I own them both. First impact, bone crunching force as I target his shoulders and plant the heels of my hands just where his shoulders meet his chest, up under his armor. This makes him go too vertical, he loses momentum and force. He is weakened.

Step right, now he is blocking his partner’s route to me. Find the ball. There it is, and he has a protector. A challenge, four on one, my edge. They will not beat me.

Step, step right I punch out and clip the protector in the chest, slowing him, but he gets in to me.


I stand them all up as I get low and just like lifting the blocking sled I grab the tackle to my left, the back to my right, squeezing the end in the middle. My objective, the carrier is shocked and stunned by my move. He can’t stop, glances off their backs and tries to go around my little mob. No. My edge. I let go of the back and grab the carrier with my right hand.

He’s mine. My secret weapon, what I learned so many years ago. Grip. If I had the strongest grip then they would never beat me. I just needed to grab them once, and hold. He’s mine.

Now using all their momentum to my advantage churn my legs. Legs strengthened not only from practice but all the manual labor my father had me do over the years. The extra work of climbing one hundred and three bent metal stairs at the beach with a five gallon bucket of sand in each hand. Power, I could feel the power I was generating, intoxicating strength of a young man. Primal growls escaping my maw as I push them closer to my goal, my old friend, the twelfth man, a.k.a. the sideline.

The surge gained me ground. They faltered back from the line, now I am in control. Continuing to scream, two in my grip, two others along for the ride I continue to see that sideline come closer.

Mask to mask with my original combatant I can smell his terror as my nose bleeds on his face. He cries, he’s not worthy. He won’t be back after this. He’s broken. If it wasn’t for this moving pile he’d be a crumpled heap of pity!

Emboldened, a guttural scream explodes from my lungs as I make the final push to that line. I see shapes, know there are teammates scrambling to get out of the way, but they are out of focus. Only the line is in focus. Enemies firmly in my grip I continue my charge and we tumble out of the field of play.

There is no off switch for rage like this. All the angst of a teenage male channelled in to a violent collision can’t be turned off like a light. Impact eminent, I refuse to hit first, twisting to my left I pull with my right arm and land on top of my four fallen foes.

Releasing my grip, I push off and up. In a tribal celebration my comrades come to celebrate my victory. Arms out wide, elbows down, head up channelling another yell, bellowing so loud that all other sound is washed away from my ears.


That moment, a split second where all realize that for that period in time who the vanquished are and who rules the day. The addictive adrenaline rush of pure victory.

Turning my back on my fallen foes, I receive adulation from my men at arms as I make my way back to my post. I feel not the pats on the back nor hear their words of commendation. I strut back to my edge, preparing for another fix, preparing for victory.

About the Writer

Jack Bates is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Victory - Play by Play

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By Theresa H Hall on July 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

Good story Jack.

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By Jack Bates on July 26, 2011 at 11:10 am

Thanks for reading! It was amazing how football was so milartaristic where I came from (near Cleveland OH). Two a days were like bootcamp and the season was the war. I hope they are staying hydrated during this heat wave!

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