Ages ago when I was a wiry not-so-wee whippersnapper of sixteen, I played my first and only season of football for the mighty JV of mighty Coronado. Aside from four years of high school hardball, my singular season on the gridiron was the most fun I’d ever had with clothes on!
Why? For one thing, we played on real grass (don’t get me started) and in real mud; but best of all, because I was bigger and faster than most, our esteemed coach in his infinite wisdom made me our fullback, meaning once in a blue moon I’d get to carry the pigskin. Hubba hubba!
My friend Frank was quarterback and my friend Art was one of our halfbacks. We were a hardy and hearty lot. To boot, the three of us were in the same AP Calculus class taught by the late Ben Cooper, but I do digress. We ran a triple-option offense of sorts, only without the “option,” meaning we ran the plays as called in the huddle by our fearless leader. We used the old “T” formation with yours truly in the middle between two halfbacks. On every snap, Frank would either hand me the ball (seldom) or fake the handoff before executing the play as planned. Therefore, on most plays my job was to blast though the line without the ball, all the while trying to draw as many would-be tacklers to me as possible. When enough enemy defenders were deked into taking the bait (me), the proposition that football is a “collision sport” was made plain to me in the most jarringly clear-cut fashion.
“Oh, the humanity!” And, ouch!
However, on such occasions I didn’t mind performing the role of a glorified tackling dummy because I knew in my heart of hearts that when I finally did get to carry the football, I’d make
dead certain the dummies on defense paid dearly! Come and get it!
I was new to the game, so when “matriculating the ball down the field” (a little Hank Stram lingo), I tended to travel straight ahead, upright, and at a thundering gallop. Rather than run to daylight, I ran to contact. Ouch? To that end, my favorite play was called “BONE-34,” where Frank would quickly hand me the ball on a simple off-tackle rush, and what a “rush” it was, pun very much intended.
I vividly recall one BONE-34 in particular versus the Kearny Komets. We were at midfield and once I’d taken the handoff, I found the line was well and truly clogged with humanity. No holes here, so I bounced to the outside where wonder of wonders, I found actual daylight, with nothing but 50 yards of green grass and wide open spaces between my happy cleats and the end zone downfield.
“Eureka!” And yowzah!
I was off to the races! I was fleet afoot, to be sure, but as I closed in on precious paydirt, out of nowhere a couple of Komet cornerbacks caught up to me and shoved me out of bounds rather forcefully at the five, sending me cartwheeling into oblivion. Whee-ee-ee!
What a rude awakening. And what a way to find out I was not the fastest player on the field!
Ouch, and double-ouch!