Back in September Brandon was about a month into his first season playing tackle football. His team, the Panthers, won their first game, and I missed it because I was working. I understand that the youngsters showed up that Saturday morning with their heads screwed on straight. They performed in inspired style.
Two weeks later eleven Panthers were on the field, and it seemed as though each had his own agenda. The result was that they did the equivalent of putting a red ribbon around the game they handed to their opponent.
Apparently the coach got their attention during the practices that followed. Being a nice guy hadn't worked, so he and the assistant coaches got tough. I wasn't there, but I understand the boys learned through the experience of several scrimmages what is required to play and win.
It was late September and a perfect day for football -- sunny with the temperature in the mid 60's. I got to the field early and watched the Panthers practice. Paired up, two boys laid on their backs, helmet to helmet, one holding the football. The coach stood over them, and when he yelled "Go!", they jumped up, turned around to face each other, and the ball carrier tried to evade the other fellow whose assignment was to tackle him. Pads were popping. No one was holding back.
Their opponent on this Saturday had won their three previous games and had not been scored against. The Panthers had a big mountain to climb. And climb it they did. The Panthers recovered a fumble and in the next few plays, made a touchdown, the first scored against their opponent! The boys played so much better than earlier in the season and their practices paid off. They didn't win the game, but they didn't embarrass themselves. I am so proud of their effort and I hope they are proud of the way they played. I am looking forward to next fall's football games.