3rd and 2

3rd and 2 coming up. Bent over in the huddle, I hear Hugh call the defense as a drop of sweat trickles down my brow. “Four-three Texas cover two.” It hangs on the end of my nose for a split-second, drips off. I watch it fall through the bars of my facemask to the grass. “Four-three Texas cover two. Ready,”

“BREAK” we thunder, eleven voices and twenty-two hands slapping thigh pads.

Later, I’d be aching at every point in my body, but I felt nothing then – not the oppressive heat, not the skin cleated from my shin, not the fresh bone bruise on my right tricep, donated by the opposing tailback’s helmet. My attention was focused entirely on the enemies approaching the line – and specifically on my enemy, the right tackle, six foot three, two seventy, twice All-State. He’d come into the first play of the game smirking at the skinny kid lining up against him, but he’d learned after three and a half quarters that skinny means quick more than weak in a starting D-end on a defending state champion team.

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