Today is the big football game. I can hardly wait to step onto that green, blue, and yellow turf with the sun beating down on my forehead. I’m prepared to destroy my opponent like a wrecking ball knocking down a building. It was September 4, 2008, a sunny day in week three of the football season. We were playing the undefeated Mentor Cardinals.
We, the Solon Comets freshmen football team, were in the locker room preparing for the game. Putting our pads in our pants, our jerseys over our shoulder pads, our game socks on, and finally putting on our cleats and helmets, meant it was game time. Before our coach came into the locker room I was sitting on the pine-sol bench thinking of our first practice on July 31, coming together as 46 kids working as one unit to succeed in every play.
In the third offensive play I dropped back to pass and a swarm of Cardinals were attacking me. I let the ball fly from my fingers to a receiver. Then, I saw a silver helmet pick the ball off and run down the sideline toward the end zone like a robber being chased by the cops.
After that interception, Mentor scored making the score 8-0. When I was on the sideline, Brill came up to me and said, “Dude I got your back. Let it go, it’s in the past, I got you.” I believed him.
The next offensive possession we started on our own two yard line. Brill drove us all the way down the field on a fourteen play drive for 98 yards. To make the score 14-8 in favor of Solon. When Brill came off the field I glided over to him and said in excitement, “Good work Brill, thank you for picking me up.” He replied, “Dude I got your back. That is what teammates do.”
Late in the fourth quarter we were up 20-16. We had the ball; all we had to do was waste the clock out and we win. Brill rolled out to his left, avoids two Mentor defenders, and then in a flash, he fumbles the ball. So, Mentor had the ball less than three minutes in the fourth. Brill comes to the sideline. I said, “It’s ok dude were gonna get the ball back and score.”
We started out with the ball on the 36 yard line with 1:51 left on the clock. Finally, it’s fourth and seven. I dropped back, I threw the ball to my left, the receiver catches the ball, breaks two tackles, and is racing down the sideline before getting knocked out of bounds. I’m running toward him like I just won a super bowl. A flag on the play brings the ball back to the thirty-five. Coach calls, “gun right Charlie plus”. I drop back, I pump fake, I release the ball from my fingertips. In shock, I see him run underneath the ball in stride into the end zone. We won 26-24. After I threw that pass I realized anything can happen. All the time in the offseason we spent conditioning, learning plays, and getting yelled at for being wrong is what helped us come together on this day and succeed. To this day, I believe that teammates pick up other teammates up when down and that’s what happened today.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.