Friday, September 11, 2009

The Game

Well, it's that time of year again. Nostalgia stabbed me clean last Friday when watching Friday Night Fever. After being graduated from high school, the name of the game still strikes my soul...

High school football!

Trying so hard not to cry from memories of the love of the sport, teammates, and high school, let me pour out my soul to my fellow Hawks and teammates from Highland High School in Gilbert, AZ, and to those who are viewing this blog...

The field is cut to carpet-like perfection in Hawk Stadium. Paint lines are streaked on an evergreen turf, chasing one another on a plane soon to be spotted in red, but for now, white and bold. Advertisement-like signs boasting players and chants are bolstered up on the railing of the bleachers. A concession stand welcomes all, wreaking of an odor, greasy, but somehow desirable. Igloos set-ice cold, trainers begging for a knee wrap, and special teams warming up before the game. And the inflateable Helmet tunnel, a sign of glory and intimidation as one may enter the stadium, is blown up hours before a glorious battle that was about to take place, only mocking the crowd of opponents.

My colosseum--The Hawk's Nest

Coaches scrambling around as if they lost their shadows and players strutting in suits of armor ready for combat. Cheers go out to the warriors in high pitched squeals, "I love you Nella," and then in relative bursts, "Kill 'em LeBaron!" Chills snap at every nerve ending when coaches criticize plays; they make adjustments at the last second, especially Coach Sickmiller. What got me was the music that reverberated throughout the invisible walls of the stadium, loud and nerve racking.

The locker room's a jumble of...well, use your imagination. But there was NO playing around on game day...


Benches before lockers were burdened with frames of Hawks, faces slapped with determination and discipline. No roudy butt slappin' today, oh no, we were going to focus. No one talked, no one smiled, this was business. Many ears impaled with ear buds connected to rectangular units of did that to us.

After my indulgence from the team meal at Fuddruckers, I was zipped, strapped, laced, and buckled...I ate four burgers. That should keep me happy.

Before the game we would say a prayer, and my good brotha from anotha motha, Luke Plzak, would kindly ask God for spiritual inspiration and physical protection...what sweet words.

Sweeter words were about to arouse my state of comfort into a mess of anticipation:

"It's game time"

Two by two we would gather into the tunnel, thick with fog machine mist clouding my senses. Suddenly it was down to the wire, the moment in which we would burst out of the prison of patience and snarl through a column of perky cheerleaders. This is where the adrenaline kicked in and out of the corner of my eye would be the fireworks popping in the distance shimmering vibrant colors..."Holy crap, this isn't reality," is what went through my mind.

A ritual of intimidation was welling up near the sideline. A heard of Hawks surround a leader, James Pazos, in a circular jumble of masculinity. James would speak a chant slowly in low tones, tones so low they were barely recognizable to the human ear, sinister and scared me. He would begin the war cry: "Let's go get 'em," and my skin curled with fierce bloodsport rage, we would repeat his terrifying slogan, and back and forth it would grow in volume and become evil to all those who weren't wearing black and teal.

Let's go get 'em

Let's go get 'em

Let's go get 'em

Let's go get 'em


...and then the cast of Braveheart would shriek at the buzz and bass-like roar we would give.

6:55 P.M. WOW!!!!

As a captain on the football team, I lock arms with my fellow captains to stare down the invaders of our house. Now comes the coin toss, where we meet on the logo of the field. They spit on my heart when they spit on the Hawk; 77 is gonna feel me on play one. We win the coin toss (it seemed we always won), it had a foreshadowing effect.

The referee blows his Fox 40 whistle and the ball is in the air! The rest is history.

"They spit on my heart when they spit on the Hawk"

As I lead my team to the bleachers to praise our fans with the fight song after the game, I think I witnessed something spectacular. This was huge! It was the event; it was the win. It was the night of another high school victory, then it was the after party.

Another show on a high school grid iron wasn't just another game..

It was THE GAME!