After ten weeks of the regular season the playoffs finally begin. My team ended with a record of 5-5, just barely making one of the last spots. For the past 5 years my school has never went past the first round and last year we didn’t even make the playoffs. This was my senior year, I had nothing but high hopes. A whole week of practice and evaluation, the time has finally come. I get on the bus with my blue and gold football bag packed at the bottom of the bus. It had all my essentials such as my jersey, pads, and the rest of my equipment. I also had to make sure that I packed my wristbands with my number 28 on it. I did my tradition of taping my cleats and drawing 28 on them in blue and gold. I started this just to distinguish my cleats from one of my fellow teammates, but I began to like the style so I kept doing it before every game. As I sit on the bus I put my slow song CD in my CD player and dose off into a deep sleep, anticipating the first step toward the state championship.
As we arrive to the stadium, all I can notice is how huge it is. I cannot believe that a high school field can look like this. I can swear we went to a college stadium. All we can hear was the rival team’s band, one of the hottest high school bands, as if they wanted their tunes to intimidate us. Our band didn’t come and they knew it. They scream that they are the “Best Band in the Land” and that our band is scared. They pump the crowd with hip-hop beats. The crowd gets hype. They yell for us to go home and that we are in “Their House.” We still keep our heads up, quiet, waiting to step onto the field.
I spend the next few hours preparing myself, as I go into a secret corner in the locker-room, shutting my ears off from everything but the sounds of Dru Hill’s “I Should Be”. It keeps me calm and patient. I put all my gear on: my blue socks, my blue pants with my leg pads in the pockets, my blue long sleeve under armor, my shoulder pads, my white wrist bands with a blue and gold 28, my white and blue jersey, my cleats and finally my gold helmet with the trademark blue paw print. I’m ready.
The time is now. It’s game time! I hear my teammates and me screaming in excitement and rage, ready to bring everything we got. I step on the field. I hear the band playing, the crowd cheering, and both teams trash talking each other. As I see the other team I think to myself “Damn, these boys are huge, but ain’t nothing gonna stop us!” The main wide receiver looks about 6 foot and is almost 200 lbs. and his back-up wasn’t too much smaller. All the linemen are close to 250 lbs. and were mostly muscle weight. Our dedicated fans who decided to make the long trip arrived. That just raised the heat. The crowds are shouting back in forth. There’s a “Go BI” here and a “Let’s beat them” there. There are also a few “Kill them mother******s” shouted out.
The coin is flipped. We get the ball first. First play of the game, I watch our star running back planting his foot for a juke and the next thing I know, he is holding his ankle in pain. All I can say is Oh Sh**! The offence just shut down. None of the back-ups were tough enough to carry the load. The defense is stopping their offence but there is only so much we can do when the offence can’t make a first down. They pull off a few touchdowns on us. I feel devastated but I am not crushed yet.
The first half goes horrible as I go back in the locker room with the score saying 21-0. There’s silence, I can feel the heart of my teammates drop. There are words of doubt and anger towards each other. I hear a teammate say that it’s over, that we lost. Others tell him to shut the hell up. They scream back and forth and the tension rise. I stay by myself, listening to the commotion. The arguing continues until a senior player quiets everything down. I hear him saying, “We’re suppose to be a team. What the hell is wrong with ya’ll. We have all this energy to fight each other but why aren’t we fighting them niggers out there?” his words fell on dead ears. They lost their will to play. I just want to know when this nightmare will end.
The second half is on. It’s not about winning now, it’s about respect. Coach wanted to evaluate the younger players, so I had to watch most of the second half on the sideline. “Damn I want to get on the field…” I don’t want to see these kids throw my last game away. I hated every minute that I had to sit out, especially for an underclassman. I couldn’t stand to watch my team being destroyed. I demanded to go back in, “Coach let me in. you see they’re just running all over them. He’s getting burnt every play.” I continued to annoy him until he finally said, “Russell get in there and you better not f*** up.” Even though the game was basically over I still played with all my heart. I tackled anyone in my way, even if they didn’t have the ball.
I see the clock, 3, 2, 1 buzzzzzzz! Game Over! We lost 28-0. I fell to my knees in disappointment and felt my tears turn to steam as they fell down my cheek. I didn’t want to congratulate the other team, but I had to out off good sportsmanship. Their eyes taunted me, they fueled my anger even the more. We huddle up. I didn’t hear a word coach said… I couldn’t; it didn’t matter to me. My high school football career was over. The chances to play in front of my friends and family are over. As I started towards the locker room, I felt my father’s hand on my shoulder. He hugged me and told me that I played a good game. That still couldn’t wipe the tears off my eyes.