Ch. 1: Friday Night in the Lights (Gordon)
I count myself and ten other people in the huddle all wearing red with white helmets and white pants. I see four white faces, four black faces, two hispanic faces, and one Asian face in the huddle. For a football team like ours, we took diversity to heart. I stared into the eyes of my offensive teammates to see how they were feeling. At the beginning of the season, the eyes told me several different thoughts that needed to be fixed for us to achieve our goals. On this night, the eyes of every player in the huddle told me the same thing: We were going to win the game.
I was glad to know this because of all the games we had to win, this was the most important game of all. This wasn't just a regular Friday night game. This was for the state championship. This wasn't just a state championship on a high school. This was the state championship that was played on the field of the one team I grew up watching all my life. The team with the bright blue star on their helmets, the cheerleaders who wore blue and white, five Super Bowls, and a reputation of being America's Team.
I was only just a senior in my high school years, but my plans were to be playing with the blue star team. I just had to make a big impression on them and this was round one. The crowd was so overwhelming and excited. Whatever money or travel plans they had to be at this game was well worth it. They were seeing an instant classic.
My team, the Allen Eagles, were locked in a dogfight with the Austin Westlake Chaparals. All season long, we were the top two teams in the state and were also ranked in the top five in the country. We led the entire state and nation in scoring and defense. There were no other challengers as both of us were undefeated. Our closest game was about a 17-point win. My fault because I got us down 10-3 at the half before rallying back for a 27-10 win. Westlake had a 13-point win against their top rival.
Both teams blazed through the playoffs and into the championship game. This game was to be broadcast nationally for a few reasons. It was the top two teams in the nation and there were going to be a lot of recruits making decisions on where to play their college ball. I had yet to make my choice on where to play. But, I knew there would be scouts watching. I wanted to put on a show and play for a school to continue my dreams to make the NFL.
My name is Gordon Henry and on that very Friday night, I was standing in the huddle with my teammates about to make my last drive in my high school career. I hated the feeling of never being able to put on a uniform again after this game. But, I was determined to end my career on the right note. When I looked into the eyes of my teammates, nothing more was said other than six words.
"Okay boys, let's go fucking win"
With that, I called the first play. 29 Hammer Right. This was a running play for our running back Marquis Lewis, who would be joining Florida State University for his college career. We clapped as we broke the huddle. The drive was about to start. Seventy-four yards between us and the end zone. I get to the line of scrimmage and I bark signals.
"Red 29. Red 29. Hut, Hike," I said as the center gave me the ball. I then turn to hand Marquis the ball and he immediately broke to his left. There was a hole formed by our left end John Skeeter and Ryan Willis. The two men had committed to play football together at Oklahoma State and they made their college proud with the blocking, which allowed Marquis to rush for a first down and be tackled at the 39.
Next up was my favorite short pass play. Shotgun Trip Right Z. On this play, our two wide receivers and tight end would be on the right side. The receivers would move inward to try and force their defenders to go with them leaving our tight end and future Penn State Nittany Lion Dexter Johnson to catch a first down towards the side. The play worked to perfection. I hit Johnson for a first down and he added another yard. All of a sudden, we were at midfield with 1:21 to play.
I overthrow a receiver on the next play and then, I rush for six on the one after that. Third down and four yards to go. I need to figure out a perfect choice to get the first down. I know we have two timeouts in our hands. But, I don't want to call one just yet. I look at my wrist playbook for all the plays we can find. There's about five pages of this with six plays each. On the second play of the fourth page is a play that is a sure fire guarantee first down. Slots Left 96 Edge.
As soon as I call this play, I see Eugene Porter, my top wide receiver, get so excited because this is the play that would ultimately send him to Texas A&M. He goes to my left side at the line of scrimmage. Then, he goes into motion and starts running behind. A linebacker keeps an eye on him by running parallel from the defensive side. As soon as Eugene stops, I ask for the snap and my center gives it to me.
I drop back and Eugene breaks for the left side. The linebacker was fooled on the play and Eugene has an easy target for me to throw too. I didn't need to overthink the throw. Just get the ball to Eugene. The throw was good and Eugene caught it. He runs down the left sideline. I'm thinking touchdown all the way. However, Westlake's top corner back is able to catch him from behind to prevent the touchdown.
Eugene is brought down at the thirteen yard line. I call a timeout with 45 seconds to go. I look downfield and just past the end zone are our cheerleader cheering for me. Among them in the first row is a dirty blonde girl with a red ribbon attached to her hair. She smiles at me and I at her. When she smiles, there's a blush of red that comes to her. That is what made me and Kendra be the couple we are.
Ever since I moved to Allen from a small Oklahoma town fifteen years ago, me and Kendra had been linked. In my heart of hearts, the story I wish I could tell you was how two really close friends became lovers. However, the plot of that was ruined when Kendra asked me to be her boyfriend when we were in the seventh grade. Of course, I said yes because I felt the same for her.
Our relationship did have struggles at first from how to date to not having sexual encounters in high school, to having to deal with other girls who claimed to be more attractive and better in bed than Kendra. Some girls were attractive, but I already had my plans. I was going to play college football, potentially get drafted in the NFL, and marry my childhood sweetheart.
After seeing Kendra smile and blow me a kiss, I ran back to the huddle. We decide to run a running play for Marquis up the gut. He winds up getting five yards and is at the eight yard line. The clock continues to move as I order everyone to get up and go to the line of scrimmage. Once everyone was set, I decide to spike the ball. The clock now read 30 seconds left. I still have a timeout for our team. But I want to see what would happened now.
In the huddle, Marquis and our two wide receivers Percy Groves and Frankie Spencer, who would be going to the University of Miami and Southern Methodist University respectively, were debating who should get the ball next. I listen and then decide to go back to Shotgun Trip Right Z with the exception that Percy would be in Dexter's spot. It was a play that was set up perfectly. Percy got open and I threw him the ball. However, a linebacker for Westlake managed to creep in and caught the ball for the interception. Game over, we lose.
Except he was unable to hang on to the ball as it hit the ground. The good news was we still had possession. The bad news was we were down to our final play. It was all or nothing. We needed a touchdown or we would lose the game. Westlake's defense was trying to get their crowd fired up while ours were hoping to score.
As soon as I get back to the huddle, I decide that we would surprise them with a quarterback run. I don't think any of our players were ready for the play, but they knew we had to go for it. We break the huddle and line up. I sit behind the center looking out to see which direction I should go. The crowd was tense at the highest moment with all the electricity and cheering. This was to be the deciding play.
I stand behind the center and decide to go for it all. I take the snap and drop back. The receivers have the defensive backs following them to make room. The offensive line blocks for me and I take off. It seems like time can't go faster because no one is in my way and yet, while I am fast, I can't get to the end zone fast enough. I wonder why I can't reach the end zone. Is there someone behind me?
All of a sudden, the clear vision of the end zone I see is interrupted by two defenders who are trying to stop me. The gap between them isn't big enough for me to squeeze through. So, I have to make another big decision and fast. Rushing up to them, I decide to pull off my favorite move as a quarterback. I call it the Texas Tornado. I spin one way and go the other way. It makes one defender dive and miss me while the other has a late reaction to me going by him.
By now, the game is over and my future is bright. Destiny beckons me and I'm about to fulfill it. This was my last high school game. It was on to greater things. Nothing could be more perfect for me.