Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Did You Play Football in High School?

No, I was on the football team.

Here is a video of the Ed White Commanders getting ready for the season. From the 1991 season through the 1993 season I stared at back-up wide receiver for the Commanders. During the time I was on the team we never passed the ball.

Seriously, we never passed the ball. I would check the box score in the Saturday paper and see that Ed White was 6/1o passing the ball for 110 yards and I knew that they must have counted the passes we threw in warm-ups.

Even now, after 16 years, it is difficult for me to describe what it was like for me to be on the football team and what that experiences means to me. I do know that few things in life have ever heightened my senses the way football did. I can still smell the smoke from the concession stand grill, I can still see smoke and mist rising through a lit up football stadium, I can still feel the coolness of the damp evening grass. I also know that I learned the discipline of being on-time and even early because of the discipline of playing football.

Even though I struggle to describe the experience I do have quite a few memories:

Going undefeated against Lee and Forest and being Westside Champs for all 3 years I was in high school. The senior year victory over Lee was especially sweet; we kicked a field goal in overtime to win, we stole Lee's prize canon after the game, and then we made up t-shirts that said, "Big Blue we own you...and your toys too."

Playing in the Bonos Bowl in my junior year. We defeated local power Bolles in a game played at the old Gator Bowl. We got to use the dressing rooms the college teams used and I can remember Head Coach Dan Disch bragging that he peed where Vince Dooley and Bo Schembechler peed.

One afternoon at practice a college scout showed up. The scout stood off to the side with Coach Disch. The receivers were practicing over by where the scout and Coach Disch were standing. I lined up to ran a pass route near Coach and the scout, and I heard the scout ask Coach Disch, "What about this one?" Disch responded, "He's as slow as Christmas."

I remember playing in my first game. It was about halfway through my junior season. It came at the end of a 17-0 defeat of Sandalwood and I celebrated at the end of that game in ways that I never celebrated again. I found another guy who also played in his first game and we jumped up down in the locker room screaming "We got to play, we got to play."

My last game was the first play-off game in school history and I was choosen to be a team captain. Coach choose four of us who were not stars but who had worked hard and stayed with the team for 3 years. We lost 28-21 to Palatka in the first round. After the game we turned in our gear, and as I walked out of the field house for the last time our safety Donald Velvet stopped me and we hugged. The only thing, and I mean the only thing, Donald and I had in common was we were we both seniors on the football team at Ed White. I walked out of the field house and my football career was over. The next morning I got up and went with my parents down to Lakeland for my first visit of a potential college.

There are so many other memories that I have. I remember the singing and chanting on the bus after a road win. I remember some of the NFL players that I saw like Patrick Sapp, Brian Dawkins, Fred Weary, and Sam Cowert. I know that Cheston Blackshear was the best player I ever played with and that he went on to be a starting offensive guard for the University of Florida. I remember Sam, wearing my jersey around school on gamedays, and pre-game meals at Mr. Gatti's.

I no longer keep up with any of my teammates. As for Coach Disch, he is now the defensive coordinator at the University of Illinois. The current head coach, Coach Gilliam, was my position coach.

If I had it to do over again I don't know if I would make the decision to go out for the team but I do treasure my 3 seasons on the football team.

1 comment:

  1. This is quite possibly the only thing I've ever read about footbal that I enjoyed. Glad you have those memories. And they appear more vivid than you think.