Rainy Night Football (a Short Story From the River Dream World)
Friday Night Fall Tradition
The Shoreside Sharks’ last non-conference game of Declan Lanier's Junior year fell on the first Friday of fall. While just the week before, the team had enjoyed partly cloudy skies and warm, humid air, autumn had brought with it a solid deck of black clouds and a chill autumn wind. Old-timers commented that the conditions at game time were real football weather, the kind of weather real football players thrived on. Just as kickoff occurred, a barely noticeable drizzle began to fall.
The Coin Toss
And So It Begins
This game was a crucial game for the 5 and 0 Shoreside Sharks. When the team captains met in the middle of the field, the Sharks won the coin toss and elected to receive. Not that receiving first did them any good. As the rain started coming down harder, the conditions of the field began to favor the defense. The Sharks went three and out on their first series of downs. A good punt set the opposition back near their 35-yard line, but they came out strong with two significant gains. The Sharks defense tightened up and forced a fumble, which gave them the ball on their own 45. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't seem to find its footing, and it was another three and out.
In The Air, In The Endzone
Who Scores First?
The opposition's offense fared no better than Shoreside's had. Declan, from his position as a middle linebacker, got in on a couple of critical tackles as the Sharks’ forced the other team to punt after netting only eight yards. Just when it looked like the first quarter was going to end in a punters' duel the Sharks’ wide receiver turned an almost broken pass play into a sixty-yard touchdown. Despite the rain, the Sharks' placekicker was able to put the point-after-touchdown kick straight through the uprights. Shoreside took a seven to nothing lead.
Some Fans Find Dry Venues, But Not These Dads
The rain continued to fall but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the fans who'd come to root on their Sharks. Rhiannon, Declan's and Sean's mother, took the first shift in the concession stand and Annette, Sean's girlfriend's mother, volunteered to join her. Somehow Sean and his girlfriend, Sasha, had talked their way into jobs helping to sell Sharks Memorabilia under the FCCLA tent. It wasn't a paying gig, but it got them out of the rain that appeared to be on its way to becoming a regular downpour as the first quarter drew to a close.
Roger, Sasha's father, and Michael, Sean's father, didn't mind watching the game in the rain so much; it was an exciting game, and they each had their foul weather gear.
The game would soon get a little too exciting, as early in the second quarter the opposing team's punt receiver ran a kick back forty yards to the Sharks’ seventeen-yard line. The Sharks’ defense rose to the challenge and forced a fourth down turnover at the twelve. Once again Declan was in on the vital tackle that stopped the drive.
Rain Favors The Defense
Will There Be A Halftime Hero?
Unfortunately, the Sharks were not able to move the ball out from the spot where they took over, but this time they nailed the punt receiver without letting him gain a yard. Two plays later Declan blitzed the quarterback and forced a fumble, giving Shoreside possession deep in enemy territory.
Four plays and two first downs later the Sharks were on the seven-yard line and threatening to score again. Just when it looked like they'd get across the goal line into the end zone the Shark’s running back coughed up the ball on the five-yard line.
Again, the defense rose to the occasion and forced another punt. Despite good field position and twenty seconds left in the half, the Sharks were not able to put together that heroic play to get over the goal line. The first half ended with the Sharks holding onto a slim seven-point lead.
Kicking Off The Second Half
3rd Quarter Starts and Ends with Excitement
The Shoreside Sharks kicked off the second half just as Roger and Michael arrived at the concession stand to relieve Rhiannon and Annette. The rain that had dampened the players and fans throughout the first half had all but stopped. Only a light mist continued to keep things damp. Michael joked that if the rain hadn’t stopped Rhiannon and Annette may have elected to stay in the concession stand.
A Sharks' interception forty-five seconds into the second half caused an uproar in the stand as everyone's attention was once again riveted toward the field. Disappointingly, the offense once more failed to capitalize on an opportunity handed to them by the defense. The Sharks’ punter continued to do his job well, though and put the other team back on their own seven-yard line.
The third quarter ground on with the ball being punted back and forth, and for a while, it looked like neither team would produce a scoring drive. It stayed that way until the Sharks struck on a pass from the fifty-yard line and their wide receiver broke two tackles before running the ball into the end zone for Shoreside's second touchdown. Unfortunately, the point-after kick went wide, leaving the score at the end of the third quarter thirteen to nothing.
Will There Be A Fateful Fumble?
Can The Sharks Hold On?
Shoreside's defense forced the opposing team to punt just a minute into the fourth quarter. Adrenalin flowed on the field and in the stands as those last eleven minutes began to tick away.
The Sharks’ offense managed to burn almost four minutes off the clock before punting it away again. The strong Sharks defense took three minutes for force the other team to punt it back, but a lucky roll landed the Sharks’ on their own one-yard line.
Things nearly got ugly when, two minutes later, the Sharks’ running back fumbled on his own fifteen-yard line, but he managed to recover the ball. However, that stopped the push up the field and forced the Sharks to punt again. Three plays later the other team scored and then ran the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
With only enough time left on the clock for a late-game gamble, the opposing team attempted an onside kick, but the Sharks anticipated the move and recovered the ball. There was only a minute and thirty-six seconds on the clock and the opposition had no timeouts left. Three downed hikes later, the Sharks’ record went to 6 and 0.
© 2015 DW Davis