"What the hell are you doing out there?", the coach said as he slammed his fist up against the chalkboard. This was the fourth he broke this season alone.
"You guys don't get it. This is the time you'll remember forever. This is the time you'll look back on. You will tell everyone that you played high school football. You guys are playing like you don't even give a good shit."
He was probably right, at least about us not giving a damn. We were down 0-27 by halftime. Everytime the running back came in with the play coach called we would just look at each other. The looks in our eyes made it obvious that everyone in the huddle knew we were going to lose another 5 yrds at best. At worst someone was going to get injured.
Between the ages of 12 and 14 my old neighborhood buddies got together to play football in an unused field almost every day. Rain, hail, and sometimes snow couldn't keep us from playing. I was all time quarterback while SO and BR were the receivers/defensive backs. Every now and then some other kid joined us, but mostly it was us three. We had no time limits. Most of the time we didn't keep score. We just played until we were too tired to go on or if our huge distraction came by.
Buffy, Bobbie Joe, and Kim. Those three were the distraction that stopped all play. When those girls strolled by everyone stopped. It was like time froze our young hormone induced bodies and our eyes couldn't be taken off of them. This happened a few times until the unthinkable happened.
They stopped and stared right back at us. SO, BR, and I looked at each other not knowing what to do. I finally grabbed the ball and motioned them to keep playing.
We played our asses off. If a pass went a little too outside of SO or BR's reach they would both dive for it rather then just walk it out. Every kick off I bolted down the field as if I were on fire ready to pound somebody's flesh into the grass. Tackles were never this graceful.
We were sore, bruised, tired, but we played on, smiling at each other and loving this newfound attention we had been given by the ladies. I would glance over at Bobbie Joe and she would smile at me. We hadn't yet even spoken to these girls and yet we had our favorites.
After this went on for what seemed like hours all three of us just huddled and called it a day. We still had to ride to the local convenience store for reasons that escape me. We had one obstacle to hurdle. Which one would approach the girls.
We stood there and whispered while the girls kind of giggled. They must of known we were complete idiots. SO was the shy one and he made clear under no circumstances was he going to be the first to talk. BR dared me to go up to Bobbie Joe. I called him a chicken shit. After that by word of our code we both had to go up.
BR and I strolled up to them in what was probably the goofiest walk ever known to man, but we completely believed we were the coolest guys ever. Fonzi was never so bad ass as we were. BR walked up to Buffy and I to Bobbie Joe. BR said hi. The girls said hi. I said hi. SO was still back at our pretend end zone. Then it came.
That errie awkward silence. We all stood there, smiling uncomfortably not knowing what the hell to say. Finally Kim chimed in and complimented us on our game. If you stuck a needle in my head my skull would have popped.
We stood there and chatted about school and various other small talk. Bobbie Joe had to go home so I offered to take her on my bike. She sat on the seat while I peddled. I took her up to her porch and we stood there again in long silence. Her mom finally came out stating that dinner was ready. Bobbie Joe looked at me and said "See you in school" while giving a wink. She walked into the house while turning around and smiling. I mounted my bike and headed off.
Coach was correct in the fact that I'll always remember playing high school football, but it's backyard football that I'll remember fondly.