The wheels on the bus went round and round, all the way to Paonia. The ten mile trip seemed to last forever. Whoosh, Whoosh was the only sound could be heard as the wheels ran through the new rain puddles that were created earlier that day. It was dead silent, you could have heard a pin drop. We all knew what was at stake. For each of us it was a different thing, but on both sides of the ball we knew that in order to have bragging rights for the rest of our lives this would be the game that we would have to win. Every other game that season didn’t matter as long as we won this game. Every hit would be remembered on those days when we would be sitting down as old men drinking beer or coffee. There would be talk about when we flew around the field with each other who hit who and who knocked who on their can. The bus was not a sleeping silence, it was more of a tense silence. The type of silent there is when a group of civilians enter the surrounding of another expecting to leave with something they shouldn’t. The main thing we were expecting to leave with was respect. It’s all about respect. This was the type of game that every hit and every block counted. We knew that we will be partying with them the next spring, and we wanted bragging rights. That was the type of silence that it was, all the way to Paonia.
The misty damp air gave us the impression that our game could be postponed or at least maybe a game where we would be drenched with other liquids than sweat. The building where we spent the time before the game was filled with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers. The people preparing them watched us in the thought that we would feel defeat. It put an awkward silence in the room. We were there to prove them wrong and that is what we planned to do. As we got closer to game time the building seemed to fill more with these people who had doubt in us.
Game Time: we walked onto the field with our heads high and our pride shining. The strut in our walk should that we would not back down to anyone, or anything, there would be no opponent to large or any weather to ferocious to cause us to lose this game. The weather began to sprinkle and the air filled with yelling and screams. This was our territory. Then the all white that covered the field to begin with was mixed in with the black of the oncoming players. This was a great day. As they walked onto the field another type of feeling stepped into my head, we could not be outdone in any way what so ever. We would have to do everything perfect from our stretches to our yelling and how we walked on and off the field. Any sign that we were the least bit weak then it would show on the field, and they would feed greatly on this weakness.
The down pour came and as a linemen I knew that I would have to play perfect, because the slightest slip of a block could cause a ten yard lose and this could cause the running back to make a bad cut. The field smelt of wet mildew. White and black flew around the field. Each of us trying to get one up on the other. Grass sticks to the bottom of our cleats. Grunts and cheers are muffed by the clatter of rain clashing against our helmets. The fact of seeing only a few feet in front of you does not matter as long as you can see and feel your immediate opponent. The mix of dew and sweat that collected inside my helmet sent a chill down my back…