Drake went out to the practice field Monday looking forward to practice. His weekend had been plagued full of college recruiters from LSU, Clemson, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Flordia to name a few. As a result, Katrina was not talking to him again, upset that Drake was admittedly loving all the attention he was getting from all these schools. He had tried to make her see things through his eyes, saying she should join in on the fun. That didn’t help. ” I am not some stupid trophy ex-cheerleader girlfriend that you can show off for your college recruiter buddies!” she had told him. Drake had then told her to stop being so damn prissy. That didn’t help either.
When Drake got to the practice field, he saw a 6ft 7 blonde haired blue eyed male running cones and doing other drills. ” Is that who I think it is?” Drake asked himself walking over. Coach Bud grinned when he spotted him ” Drake! Just the man I wanted to see. This is-” ” I know who this is Coach," Drake said looked at the newcomer. ” Miles,” Drake said. ” Solace,” he said. A second later, Drake grinned and the two embraced ” how the hell are you man?!” Drake asked. ” I’m doing good; I hear you’ve been lighting it up lately.” ” You two know each other?” ” Oh uh, yes sir. This is Andy Miles, my cousin.” ” You two are cousins?” ” Yes sir,” Andy said. ” So what are you doing here man?” Drake asked. ” I just moved here and decided to get on the team if I can.” ” Oh, well, we’re happy to have you, but there’s the transfer rule.” ” I actually have been enrolled here for sixty days, I’ve just been, doing things.”
" Ah,” Drake said, giving him a knowing look. Coach Bud cleared his throat, ” I’d hate to cut this reunion short, but we do have practice.” ” Alright, can I make a phone call first?“Drake asked. ” Make it fast.” Drake ran back to the locker room and got his cell phone to call Katrina. ” Hello?” Drake heard her say and grimaced. Oh, she’s going to be pissed. ” Hey beautiful it’s me, and well, I got terrible news. I...I think I’m pregnant.” Katrina laughed, ” oh really?” ” Yeah, and you may be the father, just letting you know.” ” Your biology is messed up Drake. What do you want?” ” I just ran into my cousin.” ” You have a cousin?” ” Yeah, apparently he’s joining the team. Look, I know you hate things just being sprung on you, but after practice, I thought we could take him to dinner?” ” Drake!” ” What?” ” I had plans!” ” Fine, I’ll bring him over for dinner!” ” No! The house is a mess; I’m not prepared! I-” ” You really act like a wife sometimes, you know that.” ” Drake you know damn well why I act like that! Speaking of which, do we have to have the wedding in August? It’s going to be outdoors; I’m going to be sweating, it’s going to be hot-”
" Can we focus on this one thing tonight? That’s nearly a year from now.” ” Oh well, I’m glad our wedding can be put on the black burner for you, thanks.” ” Katrina, that’s not what I meant, and you know it. Look I have practice, can we just go somewhere for dinner so you can meet my cousin?” ” Know what, fine, fine!” Drake grinned, ” thanks; I’ll give you a present.” ” You better.” ” Love you.” ” Love you too.” Drake hung up the phone and hurried up the practice field. After practice, Drake caught up with Andy, ” hey, what are you up to tonight?” ” Going home, making up any excuse to not do my homework.” ” Cancel it because you are coming out with me and my girlfriend, well I guess fiance.” ” You’re engaged?” ” Yeah, yeah.” ” Aren’t you a little young for that?” ” I don’t think you’re in a position to talk,” Drake said. ” Hey man, you know our situations aren’t the same,” Andy said. ” Fair enough. So you want to come?” ” Yeah sure, I might as well meet this woman that’s about to become family. She is a woman, right?” ” No, I’m secretly into dudes. And dogs. And pigs. And aliens.” ” Still got your sense of humor I see.”
They drove up to Drake’s house, and Andy whistled, ” how can you afford a place like this, I know your mom isn’t helping pay for it.” ” Some inheritance I got from some uncle.” ” You got some of that money too?” ” Yeah. Did you?” ” Yeah. That’s how I was able to escape from Cloretta.” The two young men got out of Drake’s car and walked inside the house where Katrina was waiting. Andy and Katrina introduced each other, and the three went off to Katrina’s favorite place, Guadalajara’s. They talked for a while until Katrina asked what Andy was doing in Easthaven. Both Drake and Andy exchanged a look, ” Should we tell her?” ” I mean, you’re the one who has to go home with her.” ” Yeah but if she knows-” ” What’s going to happen that isn’t going to happen inevitably?” ” Maybe, maybe not. They might not find us.” ” Dude, you nearly had 300 passing yards last week, you keep lighting it up, they’re going to find you.” ” Yeah well, I’d prefer if they didn’t, alright?” ” Um, hello, I’m right here,” Katrina said waving a hand.
Drake and Andy looked at her and Drake sighed ” well damn it Andy, if Cloretta finds out about her-” ” How’s she gonna find out?” ” You know good well she’s gonna come looking for you and oh gee, guess where you’re living.” ” Will you relax?” ” So are you two going to tell me what’s going on or?” Katrina asked. Drake rolled his eyes ” alright fine. Katrina, here’s what’s going on. Andy here was in an arranged marriage with a woman named Cloretta. The thing is that, and I need you not to get mad, okay? But before I got myself arrested, I was the one who was set up for her.”
Katrina sat back and folded her arms. ” Explain. Now.” ” Okay. So my family is really, really screwed up. They think it’s still the slave days. That people of color should serve white people, despite the fact we come from Ireland; therefore, our ancestors were also slaves. They do arranged marriages and things like that. Don’t ask me the details; I don’t know how it all works. Anyway, the woman that both me and Andy were set up for, well no other way to say this, she belongs to a cult. A lot of our family does. And I’m talking Charles Manson type cult. That’s why they’re so racist. They believe in the whole ‘white equals purity’ thing. And if they find out about you, they already hate me as it is. And if they find out I’m with you, I dunno what they’re gonna do.”
" Drake... why can’t your family just be normal?” Katrina asked smiling. Drake chuckled, ” you know, I really don’t know.” Katrina laughed and grabbed his hand ” I’m fine, and if any of these people think they can take you away from me, I am going to rev up the chainsaw and show them how it’s really done.” ” I knew there was a reason I liked you.” Andy smiled, ” see man; there’s nothing to worry about. Now Friday night, that’s a problem. Springfield has Damien Colepepper, he averages five passing touchdowns a game and has a 95 QB rating. He may skip college and head straight to the NFL. Drake, how are we gonna stop him.” ” You play Defensive End right?” ” Yeah.” ” You sack his ass as many times as it takes Friday Night. I’ll get us on the board.”
Drake was at a favorite local restaurant with King and his girlfriend Emily, Andy, and Katrina. Everyone was goofing off minus Drake who was studying his playbook as usual. ” Man, will you give it a rest? You’re acting like you’re studying the SATs or something” King said. ” Is he always like this before a game?” Andy asked. ” More or less.” ” You two stop teasing him, I like seeing my Quarterback focus,” Katrina said, kissing his cheek. Drake grinned and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close,” And I like it when you aren’t mad at me.” ” Yeah well, I can never be mad at you for too long,” Katrina said. Just then a young-looking man wearing a suit walked up to their table ” ” King Sawyer, Drake Solace?” ” Yes sir?” they both asked. ” Timmy Ross from Philadelphia State University. Would you two mind talking with me for a minute?”
King and Drake nodded and followed him to another table ” now gentlemen, I’m sure you know about the fantastic program we’ve got at PSU, and we’ve had our eyes on you boys ever since the previous State Championship. We want to know if you would like to schedule a visit.” ” Uh, yeah we would but we gotta talk about the fine print,” King said. ” Yeah, it’s best if we cover our bases,” Drake added. ” Well the fine print is that we want you both, our backfield is graduating this year, and you two are our number one priority. Look, here’s the thing, you two want to go pro right?” ” Yeah.” ” Yes, sir.” ” Well we’ll make that happen, we are willing to offer you, boys, a full ride, King we can help your mother get a job and comfortable and affordable housing, hell we might even pay for it and if you boys have anyone special coming along with you we’ll pay their way too and assist them in their future endeavors their Senior year. All we need is a Verbal and I promise you; we’ll do all we can to help. The reason we are so successful is because we get guys to the NFL. All you two will have to do is play for us, pay your dues, and we’ll get you in.”
Drake and King looked at each other and back at Timmy, ” that is a great offer. How soon can we visit?” Drake asked. ” How about this Saturday? We’ll get you tickets to our game vs. Penn State, we’ll give you a tour, let you be on our sideline and our locker room, give you the full experience. And since it’s so far away, we’ll fly you boys in.” ” Thank you, we accept,” King said. ” Alright, see you gentlemen Saturday then,” Timmy said. They shook hands and Drake, and King went back to their table and told the others what happened. ” Good for you two. Now I wish I hadn’t already given Marshall the Verbal” Andy said. ” So we’re going to Philidelphia Saturday?” Katrina asked. ” If you want to come with,” Drake said. ” Of course I do, where you’re going is where I’m going.” ” Alright, then.”
" Ladies and Gentlemen we are in Springfield getting ready for a clash of the ages when the reigning state champions the Easthaven Correctional Panthers will take on Damien Colepepper’s Cardinals.” Drake, Andy, James, Samson, and King were talking about their responsibilities for the upcoming game and throwing ideas about how they were going to shut down Colepepper when Coach Bud gathered his team around. ” Alright focus up! Everyone is saying that these guys have the best damn Quarterback in the country. I disagree. Because a good Quarterback makes sure his whole team looks good, not just himself. In that regard, this Colepepper kid can’t hold Drake’s jock. Don’t worry about this guy, because he is only one kid on a mediocre team. And one kid cannot take on an entire team. I expect you boys to do your jobs.” ” Yes, sir.” ” Alright, James lead us out.”
James grinned and stood up, ” let’s go gentlemen!” The rest of the team roared and stood up ” Listen up! These fools aren’t going to know what hit em! This is a brotherhood! And we’re going to show them how we do! Let’s take it to the field!” The Panthers raced out to the field and were greeted by the Carolina blue and red Cardinals. The captains met at the fifty for the coin toss which Springfield won and elected to receive. The Panthers kicked off to the Cardinals who ran it back to the thirty-two. On their very first play, Colepepper threw a fifty-yard pass which the wide receiver took in for a touchdown. After the extra point, the score became 7-0 Springfield. The Cardinals kicked off to the Panthers which James returned to the Panthers forty-five. ” Fullback Sweep” Coach Bud told Drake. The Panther offense ran out and got lined up. ” Down! White 20! White 20! Set Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and gives it Myers who runs upfield sixteen yards.”
The Panthers got into the huddle ” Fullback Smash on two, ready?” ” Break!” The Panthers line up in the T-Formation ” Down! Red 22! Red 22! Set Go Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and hands off to Myers who plows through that defensive line. He flattens a Cardinal linebacker! He is plowing through this Springfield defense! And that is going to be a Panther touchdown!” After the extra point, the score was 7-7. But the tie did not last long. The Cardinals brought the ball up to the thirty-eight, and Colepepper threw another touchdown pass on the next play, and with the extra point the score became 14-7. The Panthers were only able to get a field goal to make the score 14-10. The Cardinals scored off another touchdown pass but missed the extra point to make the score 20-10 Cardinals. In the locker room, Coach Bud was in high spirits ” Just like I thought, all they have is the Quarterback. Keep executing gentlemen, defense, blitz the whole second half. Let’s go take care of business gentlemen.”
The Panthers ran back on the field and got ready to receive the kick-off which King returned to the twenty-five. The offense huddled up ” alright boys we’re going Pro 390 Wheel on one, ready?” ” Break!” The Panthers lined up in the Shotgun Formation ” Down! Blue 61! Blue 61! Set Go!” ” Drake takes the snap and drops back to pass, he’s got all day to throw, and he lets it fly! Furgeson comes up with it, touchdown Panthers!” The Panthers kicked the extra point to make the score 21-17 Cardinals. However, Colepepper made short work of the Panther defense, throwing another touchdown pass in a three-play drive and after the extra point, the score became 27-17. Once the Cardinals kicked off, King returned it to the Cardinal thirty. Once Drake joined the huddle he looked around ” alright, we’re going to run a screen. Samson?” ” Yeah?” ” Colepepper plays Linebacker, right?” ” Yeah.” ” Lay the smackdown on him. Let’s stop giving him special treatment, gentlemen. On Set, ready?” ” Break!”
The Panthers lined up in the I-Formation ” Down! Set!” ” Drake takes the snap and drops back to pass; he dumps it to KIng.” Drake watched as Samson leveled Colepepper. Meanwhile, King ran out of bounds and ran back to the huddle with a big grin on his face. ” Hey Drake, can I go next?” he asked when he got in the huddle. ” Sure. See how hard you can hit him. I’ll run up the middle with the ball. On two, ready?” ” Break!” ” Down! Set Go Go!” ” Drake runs up the middle and heads up fifteen yards.”
Meanwhile, King and Victor left Colepepper lying on his back who was slow to get up. The Panthers were close to scoring, and the Panthers were in high spirits. ” Alright, King, drive us in. I want a shot at Colepepper too. I think he’s had enough. Direct Snap tp King on one, ready?” ” Break!”
The Panthers lined up in the Shotgun Formation. ” Down! Set Go!” “Snap goes to King who takes it to the Left Outside he evades a tackle, and he’s going to take it to the house!” As King was scoring Drake ran at Colepepper and ran him over. After the extra point, the score became 27-24 Cardinals. After the kickoff, Colepepper seemed to be shaken. Drake grinned, feeling like the game was about to turn in their favor. ” Colepepper takes the snap, and his blocking breaks down! He scrambles, and he gets stuffed by Andy Miles! Fumble! And the Panthers recover! With just over a minute left the Panthers have a chance of winning this football game!” The Panthers ran out of the field and got ready to call another play. ” This is peculiar, but the Panthers line up for a field goal. They must be going for Overtime! The ball is snapped, wait, it’s a fake! Drake looks to pass, he throws to Furgeson, and it is caught! James is off with nothing but open field, and he’s going to score!”
The Panthers celebrated as the Cardinals stared in disbelief. After the extra point, the score was 31-27. A minute later, the game was over, and the Panthers celebrated in the locker room and headed home in good spirits. One more win was all they needed to make the playoffs. Drake headed home to see a bag packed and a large trash bag in the living room. ” What’s all this?” he asked Katrina. ” We have a plane to catch at five in the morning, so I’m making sure you don’t do what it is you Irish people do and drink yourself asleep and mess this up. Lord knows you need to be babysat.” ” So you took all my beer?” Drake asked. ” Yeah, you’re too irresponsible to be trusted,” Katrina asked. ” You be nice,” Drake said. ” No. Now go to bed.” ” Drake chuckled ” night,” he said before heading to the bedroom.