Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad night for many

Friday night will be a good night for many LeFlore County seniors.

For others, it will be a sad night.

Some of our seniors from Spiro and Talihina (and maybe Arkoma) will get to play at least one more game in the playoffs next week.

For the seniors from Bokoshe, Heavener, Panama, Pocola and Poteau, this will end the football playing days.

A few seniors might get to play at the next level, but most of them will take off the pads one last time.

These players have played, practiced and prepared for years. Now, all they will have are the memories, both good and bad.

It shouldn’t be this way, but playing high school football will be one of the highlights of their lives, whether they play on a good team or a bad one.

That certainly was the way I felt of it. For 30 years, I have wished for a chance to go back and play one final game (or season!) There is no way that is going to happen, especially when one is close to half a century old.

We were not that good my senior year, finishing 3-7. I still remember who we played and could come up with the scores if I had to. Our final game was at home against Stigler. The Panthers were going to the playoffs, we weren’t.

But we wanted to go out with a bang. The first play of the game, we ran a reverse and Joe Westfall ran down to the Stigler 5. We scored a couple of plays later and actually led.

Stigler came back to take the lead, but we had the chance to score right before halftime, but one quarterback who just happens to be writing this blog, was stopped short of the end zone. Stigler added another touchdown and the end quickly approached.

The game was over and so was my playing days. I was okay until we got in the locker room and started taking off the pads one final time. That was when it hit me. We would never do this again. I didn’t much care for some aspects of football, such as wind sprints or practicing when it was over 100 degrees.

But we were part of something special. Our small group of seniors had been doing this for five years, forming bonds that will last until the day we die. We fought together and celebrated together. Yes, there are times better, but not many.

I remember so well running on to the field before games with everybody on our side of the field standing and clapping and the band playing Allegiance (which was our school song).

I remember the bad times (like getting thumped by Vian that senior year) along with actually taking the lead in our game against Poteau, the first time that had happened in my varsity career.

I also remember one of my best friends, Marty Hinds, tearing up his knee in a pre-season scrimmage and realizing that all those miles we ran in the blazing summer heat and all those weights he had lifted, were all for naught. Number 51 would have to watch it all from the sidelines.

There is no feeling quite like this. So for you seniors playing for the final time tomorrow night, relish the memory and go out like a champion.

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