Clear Eyes Full Heart

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Chapter 3

Drake was up early Friday morning wearing his black and red with silver trim home jersey that read Easthaven #6 over a white t-shirt and jeans as he fired footballs into a tire swing. Katrina was watching him chuckling as the dogs kept making off with the footballs ” you ready for tonight stud?” she asked. ” As I’ll ever be” Drake replied as he fired another football into the tire swing. ” I don’t know why you’re so nervous. You guys are gonna kill them tonight” ” Yeah you’re right. I’m just worried I won’t be able to focus without my number one cheerleader” Katrina raised an eyebrow and hugged him from behind ” you’ll see her alright; when it’s just you and me. And if you guys win, you may find that you like having her all to yourself,” she whispered. Drake grinned as he craned his neck to look at her ” is that right?” he asked. They separated when they heard a car honk and saw King coming their way wearing his home jersey that read #21 ” Hey Solace you ready to go or what? We’re gonna be late for the pep rally, and the King doesn’t like to leave his fans hanging.” He then gave a big yawn” sorry, didn’t get much sleep. Someone kept sending weirdos to my house last night.” Drake and Katrina exchanged a knowing grin before Drake hugged her goodbye, ” you’re so evil,” he whispered. ” I know,” she whispered back before Drake told the dogs goodbye and headed off to school.

Classes just whizzed by as all anyone could talk about was the game coming up. Drake felt more and more nervous to the point where he could hardly stomach anything at lunch. He and King went to a local favorite and were surrounded by many other Easthaven Correctional students who were giving them a lot of attention. While King was soaking it all in, particularly the attention he got from the girls, Drake just read his playbook as he ate. ” Man, what is up with you? You always get wound up before a game” King said. ” You just focus on scoring touchdowns man,” Drake said. Just then, an elderly white man walked up to them. As the man got closer Drake saw that he was wearing a University of Georgia polo ” Drake Solace, King Sawyer” he said, extending a hand which they both shook ” David Chase. I’m a scout from the University of Georgia. I just want you gentlemen to know that I’ll be having a close eye on you tonight. Good luck,”. Drake and King politely thanked the man and looked at each other, ” I told you last year man. We’re going all the way. This is only the beginning for us”. ” Just remember what we agreed on,” Drake said ” Katrina and your mother have a say as to what college we pick” ” Of course. Now, let’s get out of here before we miss the pep rally”.

The school gym was packed full of screaming students holding up signs. The Panther players were behind an inflatable tunnel that had a black panther in front. Black and red streamers and balloons were everywhere. After several minutes the principal was finally able to calm everybody down ” Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is the season opener of our beloved Panthers as they take on the Southport Lions. I understand that you are all excited, but as always I ask you guys to respect the opposing team and not vandalize their bus. Now, without further ado, allow me to introduce the reigning, defending Texas Triple-A State Champions, the Easthaven Correctional Panthers!” The student body exploded in cheers as Drake and King along with the two new captains James Ferguson, a Wide Receiver and Samson Myers; the new Fullback led the rest of the players through the tunnel. The Panthers stood shoulder to shoulder as Coach Miller grabbed a microphone ” first off I would like to thank every single one of you for never failing to support us. Your support is what drives us to get better, and we will not stop until we bring you another State Championship.”

Finally, the school day was over, and it was time for the players to prepare in the locker room. The Panthers sat in the locker room silently getting ready for the upcoming game. Drake had black under armor on as well as his black and red with silver trim home uniform. He was reading his playbook and listening to Three Days Grace blare through his headphones. King was sitting next to him his usual carefree demeanor gone and replaced with a harder version of himself. Drake sighed as his phone went off for the tenth time in the last minute ” Katrina I’m trying to freaking concentrate” he muttered but smiled as he looked at another photo message of the dogs wearing pro-Panther merchandise. King looked at the photo and chuckled ” she really loves those dogs doesn’t she?” Drake nodded as he put his phone away ” they’re like her children. She spoils them relentlessly.” Finally, Coach Miller came out of his office and had the team gather around. He looked at each team member before speaking, ” Gentlemen, this is it. The moment we have all been waiting for. The moment that you have worked hard for at camp, at two-a-days in the 110-degree heat. All so you can proudly take that field tonight. Soak it in gentlemen, cause for some of you; this is it. Are you ready to get out there and take what’s yours?”

The team muttered agreement as they started to get excited. Coach Miller took a moment before speaking again ” Tonight nothing else matters but being on that field. All eyes are on you, a lot of people have paid their good hard-earned money to watch you boys play. The hopes of all those people rest on your shoulders. It’s up to you to not let these people down. So get out there and go make all those people proud.” The Panthers were getting more and more excited as Coach Miller looked at Drake ” Lead us out there Solace.” Solace nodded and stood up, ” Everbody up!” The rest of the team yelled in excitement as they circled their Quarterback ” This is our house! These boys have no place here. They are not welcome here! They are in for a world of pain! We smack them in the mouth from the opening play, and we don’t let up until they beg for mercy! This is our house! This is our turf! Our fans, our game! Panther Pride on 3! 1 2 3!” ” Panther Pride!”

" Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to tonight’s season opener between the Southport Lions and the reigning Texas AAA State Champions the Easthaven Correctional Panthers! Introducing first, the visiting Southport Lions.” There were a few cheers but compared to the jam-packed stadium it was like bugs in the air ” and now. . . get on your feet and welcome the reigning, defending state champions of the wooorrrrrllllddddd, the Easthaven Correctional Panthers!!” Deafening cheers greeted the home team as they exploded out of the tunnel and tore through a banner held by the cheerleaders. At the front were the four captains as the team ran to midfield and huddled around the captains ” what do we do on the football field?!” Drake asked. ” Kick ass!” came the reply, and the team ran to their sideline. The starters were introduced, the coin toss was decided with the Panthers winning and electing to receive, the National Anthem was played, and it was finally time for kick-off. The Lions dressed in their white and red with gold trim away uniforms lined up to the Panthers. The whistle blew and the season was underway.

" King Sawyer gets the ball at the goal line, and he’s off. He makes it to the ten, evades one tackle, makes it to the twenty, spins out of the way of another Lions, makes it to the thirty, gets hit at the thirty-three and will be brought down at the thirty-six, and that’s where the Panthers will set up shop.” ” Gun Right 29 Pro” Coach Miller told Drake and ran to the huddle ” Alright boys let’s make this quick. Me and my lady have dinner reservations for 8:30.” Drake joked. His teammates chuckled as Drake got to business ” Gun Right 29 Pro on one. Ready?"

" Break!" The Panthers lined up in the Shotgun Formation ” Down! Red 29! Red 29! Set Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and hands off to King who goes to the left outside, dodges a Lion as he reaches the forty, dodges another defender as he reaches the forty-five, he plows right through the Lion safety, and he’s off! He crosses the fifty, the forty, the thirty, the twenty and the Panthers are going to score off their first play from scrimmage! Touchdown Panthers!” The Panther fans cheered loudly as the offense jogged off the field. The extra point was good, and the score jumped to 7-0 just like that. The Lions got the kickoff but were unable to move the ball much before punting the ball away which King returned to the Panther forty-four.

" Panther Streaks on two. Ready?” ” Break!” The Panthers lined up in the Singleback Formation ” Down! Blue 84! Blue 84! Set Go Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and drops back to pass. Surveys the field, he has #11, James Ferguson wide open, he throws. . . And it is caught! James is at the Lion thirty-five, the thirty, the twenty-five as he keeps on increasing the distance between himself and his defender. He’s not going to be caught, touchdown Panthers!” Drake ran off the field and took off his helmet as he walked to the bench. He had a good feeling about the game thus far. The Lions ran the kickoff back to their own twenty-two. The Lion quarterback took the snap and rolled left looking to pass but panicked when he saw King burst through his offensive line. The quarterback threw the ball out of desperation, right into King’s outstretched hands. “And it’s intercepted! King’s at the twenty, the fifteen, the ten and looks like it’s going to be another touchdown! And the Panthers have exploded right out the gate in tonight’s game.” Drake sat on the bench as he watched as the score jumped to 21-0 as the first quarter ended.

Drake watched as the Lions got the ball back and managed to score a field goal to make the score 21-3. The Panthers got the ball back, and King returned the kick-off to the thirty-six. Drake put his helmet on and raced back on the field. He joined the huddle and looked around, ” Alright boys, we’ve got I-Right 24 Switchblade on three, ready?” “Break!” The Panthers lined up in the Pro Set ” Down! Green 30! Green 30! Set GoGoGo!” “Drake takes the snap and pitches it to King, he drops back to pass, looking, he has Drake open, and he fires!” Drake hustled and caught the ball at the fifty-yard line “Drake is at the fifty, the forty-five and will be brought down at the forty-two. First down Panthers!” Drake got up and ran to rejoin the huddle “Alright boys, let’s keep this going. Let’s try Inside Curve on one. Ready?” “Break!” The Panthers lined up in the T-Formation “Down! White 88! White 88! Set Go!” “Drake takes the snap and drops back to pass, he has David Mchenry wide open, he throws, and it is caught at the thirty-four and will be brought down at the thirty.”

Drake rejoined the huddle with a smirk “we’ve got them right where we want them, boys. Let’s punch it in, shall we? We’ve got Halfback Option on Set. Ready?” “Break!” The Panthers lined up in the I-Formation “Down Set!” ” Drake takes the snap and hands the ball off to King who heads up the middle. He dodges a line and another, he spins out of the way of another defender, and he’s off! He’s at the twenty, the fifteen, the ten and King will score his third touchdown in this game!” The Panther fans started cheering loudly as the score jumped up to 28-3 after the extra point. The Lions brought the kick-off to the twenty-four. Once again, all the Lions managed to get out of their drive was a field goal making the score 28-6 at the end of the half. The Panthers were joking around and laughing as they went in the locker room during halftime. Coach Miller managed to calm down his team after a few minutes, ” you guys are playing good football so far. Don’t let up. Tyler, give Drake the break he deserves. You’re in for the first offensive series of the second half. Earn your stripes.”

Drake had to admit; it felt good being able to rest. Last year he had to play every single offensive down so having a backup put his mind at ease. He watched as both teams struggle all through the third quarter with no team scoring a single point. Drake sighed as he watched Tyler cockily strut off the field after another failed offensive series ” Hey Tyler, just so you know, you had David wide open on that last play.” Tyler shrugged “we’re winning. Why the hell should I care?” Drake took a deep breath to calm himself. I really can’t stand that guy he thought. The third quarter ended with the score being 28-6 Panthers with it being 4th and 7 at the Panther forty-seven for Easthaven Correctional. The fourth quarter started with the Panthers punting. “And the punt is returned by Jason Bryan at the Lion thirty. He’s at the thirty-five, dodges a defender, reaches the forty, the forty-five, dodges a couple more Panthers as he reaches midfield with only the punter to beat, and he’s gone! He reaches Panther territory as he makes it to the forty, the thirty, the twenty, the ten and Jason will return this punt return for a touchdown!”

Drake swore in Celtic as he watched the score jump up to 28-13 after Lion’s extra point. King brought the kick-off to the twenty-nine and Tyler stood up ” not to worry coach, I got this,” he said. Drake rolled his eyes,” does that prick worship himself or something?” He asked himself. He watched as Tyler led the Panthers to the line ” Down! White 88! White 88! Set Go!” “Tyler drops back to pass, looking, he throws. . . and it is picked off!” Drake kicked the ground as the Lion Corner Back picked the ball off and slipped past a few Panthers ” and that’s going to be another Southport touchdown!”

Coach Miller muttered something under his breath, “Drake, finish this game.” With the extra point, the score became 28-20. The Lions lined up to kick the ball, “and it’s an onside kick! There’s a struggle. . . and it’s Panther ball!” Drake ran to join his teammates” hey guys, I missed you.” ” We missed you too man. Tyler was just doing his own thing,” King growled. Drake sighed, ” forget about him, let’s just put this one in the books. Fullback Sweep on Set. Ready?” “Break!” The Panthers lined up in their standard formation ” Down Set!” “Drake takes the snap and pitches it to Samson Myers who is going to run over a Lion defender and another one! And Samson is going to make it to the Lion twenty-eight before being brought down.”

" Quarterback Handoff on one. Ready?” “Break!” The Panthers lined up in their standard formation ” Down! Red 220! Red 220! Set Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and hands it off to King who’s going to hand it back to Drake who’s going to head to the left outside. He sheds a tackle, dodges another defender as he reaches the twenty, the fifteen, the ten and touchdown Panthers!” Drake sighed in relief as he ran to the sideline. After the extra point, the score became 35-20. Neither team was able to score again, and the game ended with the Panthers getting their first win. The Panther faithful ran on the field to congratulate their team. Katrina ran straight for Drake and jumped in his arms” you did it!” she squealed. ” We sure did!” Drake said as Katrina kissed him over and over again. Drake set Katrina down, answered some questions for some reporters, and went to the locker room to shower. Katrina had gone on ahead already as Drake was putting his stuff in his car. He froze when he heard a voice, ” you didn’t look half bad.”

Drake whirled around to see his mother holding a white envelope, ” what the hell do you want?!” Drake snapped, wishing he had a weapon. Lindsay shrugged ” I just wanted to tell my son good game. And I wanted to give you this” she said holding up the envelope. ” What is it, something to get me in trouble?!” Drake snarled. Lindsay shook her head,” it’s your inheritance. I don’t feel like arguing with the native and that little girl. I only spend time with those who deserve it.” Drake narrowed his eyes,” put the envelope on the ground and walk away. And this better not be a trick.” Lindsay rolled her eyes and complied “I don’t need to trick you, Drake. Your little girlfriend can’t be trusted, and I can’t wait till she betrays you. Think of this as money to fall back on when that brown-skinned harlot takes all your stuff” Lindsay sneered before walking away. Drake fought the urge to force what she had said back down her throat as he slowly picked up the envelope. He opened it to see a check for fifteen million dollars. ” Holy!” Drake said, eyes wide. He stood there, wondering what to do for a few moments before it hit him. I already plan on spending my life with Katrina, might as well use this to take the first step.

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