Push ‘Em Back. Push ’em Back.

Waaay Back!

It was a parking lot.  Even though I figured it was about the second half already.  It was still a parking lot, so John was going to have to hold my hand.

“I love football,” says John.  He is excited.  Except that John was jumping up and down, twisting, and generally so excited that he was not moving in any kind of linear fashion.  I was steering, but he was turning, kind of like wiper blades on  car.

The Salisbury High team plays in a cramped field immediately adjacent to the rear of the school.  There are a few parking lots, but mostly, people put their cars in the nearby neighborhoods.  I could smell bent grass and mildewed laundry.  Its a smell I will always know.  Along with its attendant sounds (Rico Gaston 4 yards on the carry, second down), and the specular light casting shadows across the dark night, I would recognize this anywhere as Friday Night Football.

Susie and I share a love for this kind of spectacle.  It is kind of like going to the State Fair, except you get to sit down.  There is a game, but that’s just one of the entertaining things going on.  For her, its a bit of mix.  If there is something you want that you can’t get a high school football game, then you probably don’t need it.

Susie was a cheerleader herself.  That’s right.  I married a cheerleader! Its also fun to go to her old school, if only because she inevitably sees people she hasn’t caught up with in years.

“This is not just about football,” she says.  As if to prove her point, Emma, one of our middle school nieces, strolls by and sits on a riser about thirty feet away. She is with a bunch of girls, most of whom have their backs to the field.  “Sure, she got by her dad, but check out those ear rings and that shirt!”

I am more focused on number 51.  Usually, a high school game has no players who can stand apart.  Yet, 51, a 340 pound nose guard, does just that.  For him, this is a game of 5 yard runs.  Some plays, he runs a few yards and the plays goes the other way.  Some plays, three or four blockers trip him up.  Sometimes, no one blocks him and he flattens the ball carrier.  That doesn’t happen too often, but its devastating when it does.  He forces two fumbles in today’s game.

John is looking at the tuba player.  He arrived wanting to learn to play the trumpet.  I actually think that’s an appropriate choice for him, someday.  Tonight, though, the sheer volume of that sound is pulling at his heart.

They are just high schoolers.  Maybe they never change.  But then again, maybe things are different.  Salisbury High has one player named Chianti and another named Tequilo.  I realize that none of these players have spent time listening to Huey Lewis.

Oh my…number 51 turns from the line and follows a running back who breaks past on a trap block.  The runner has been captured by a middle linebacker, a few yards back.  Seeing his chance…ouch…this is not going to be pleasant.  Number 51 jumps!  He ascends, and his trajectory begins to arc at about 9 inches.  Then he lands, flop, belly first, on the smallish runner.

Two rows up, its ecstasy.  Debra Jackson has won the drawing.  “Debra has won $218,” the announcer warbles, “and she is going to donate it to the band!”


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