So in continuance of my focus on high school football aka “The boys of fall” yesterday. High school football is not just something you do as a young man, it is something you live. From leaving the fair early or late to attended “two a day” practices to those after game dances where you wore your mesh “half shirt” hoping some young lady would slow dance with you, life in the fall as a high school male revolved around the sport. In my last blog post I talked about Kenny Chesney’s latest song and how it related to me personally when I played football in school.
One verse of the song that really hit me the first time I heard it is “Well, its knockin heads and talking trash, it’s slingin mud and dirt and grass, It’s I got your number, I got your back, when your backs against the wall, You mess with one man, you got us all, the boys of fall.” From a male perspective I cannot stress the importance and fun of the “knockin heads part’ anyone including myself who ever loved the game loved to “hit”. That crack of shoulder pads and helmet against those of an opposing player were gold, solid gold I am telling ya. You hoped in the collision you had the most velocity and put a “hurt” on the other player but even when the hit rang your own bell and made you stagger there was just something fun and magical about that crack of a good hit.
I was not the biggest player on the field, nor was I the fastest, most talented or strongest. I was decent but not great but one thing I feel I excelled at was the mental part of the game. No, I did not know every play the opponent was going to run nor were my instincts particularly honed. The verse in the song “knockin heads and ‘talkin trash’ was probably my forte. I am a true believer in a good mental game can give you an edge in competition. For me it started early on game night. Often you had officials (referees, zebras etc) on a regular rotating basis, knowing these gentlemen was tantamount to success. A quick and friendly pregame, “How are you tonight Mr. Johnson, you look like you have been working out” usually was good for at least one call going your way on any given Friday evening.
The next thing to focus on was your opponent and to learn all you could about them on a personal level. Knowing that your opponent’s real name was “Eugene” even if his team called him “Moose” could be handy as you walked to the line of scrimmage saying something like, “Hey Eugene, did your momma come to the game?” When Moose answered “Why yes, she did”, you would say, “Good, that way she can comfort you on the way home after you get your ass kicked tonight.” Moose may have been 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier but the bitchslap he had just been given would keep him off his game for at least the first quarter. At some point in the night a quick “What the hell kind of poosy name is Eugene anyway, it almost sounds queer?” would quite often draw a flag and 15 yards to the good for your team on a personal foul penalty. Make sure Mr. Johnson (who has not been working out) the line judge is in a position to see the retaliation and be sure and thank him for keeping the game clean. You can laugh as you go to your own huddle but keep it fairly low in volume but make sure Eugene sees you laughing.
The mind games did not always have to be used directly on a player to be effective. Suppose you were playing middle line backer and sacked their quarterback on a particular play. As you helped the little man up from the ground you could say, “Man your left guard is almost acting like they wanted me to sack you or they are afraid or something, maybe you should talk to them, I would hate for you to get hurt because he wont block for you.” This would usually cause some discourse on the opposing squad as they huddled for the next play. *snicker*.
It was important to compliment opposing players as well when they made a good play but always leave a hint of doubt. Let’s just say their star running back made a nice 20 yard run, as the pile unfolded you could say, “That was a nice run, if your tight end would block you would have scored a touchdown.” You always should watch and see if your comments cause some fighting among the other side so you can throw gas on any personal fire that may present itself on subsequent plays. If you happened to be personally knocked down by an opposing player it was not the end of the world. Just say something like, "I bet that felt good, now you know how great I have felt knocking you down all night!" *chuckle chuckle*
If you happened to be lucky and be a defensive lineman and especially noseguard your night could be full of wondrous moments. Hey center, “is the snap count on one, two or twenty five?” as their quarterback barked calls would usually be the impetus for one, two or twenty five offside penalties during any Friday evening. Even on offense you could use the mind to your advantage. You could tell the male across from you that you had heard that, “the free safety and he were lovers but their secret was safe with you, but you would be calling them "jotos" the rest of the night.”
The best I ever had mentally was an outside linebacker/tight end from Granger that I knew was the boyfriend of a pretty cheerleader on their side. All night I taunted him and could not get him to react which was starting to get a bit frustrating. We had a good lead but I still was focused on him responding to my vocal games. We were close to the end of the 4th quarter when I brought out the big guns. On a kickoff to them after a touchdown that had been on his side of their defense I finally to got him. As the play ended with him blocking me fairly well I said to him, “Hey Michelle (his real name was Mike), that was some good blocking, if I had not been so tired from grinding all night on that cheerleader (I pointed to his girlfriend) I would have made a tackle” Besides I said, “It was worth it because she was the hottest thing I have ever experienced, she was just flat dirty!” Mike threw a punch that missed, but I staggered backwards and fell to the ground like Keanu Reeves getting hit by a rubber band. Luckily, Mr. Johnson saw the whole thing and gave Michelle (Mike) an unsportsmanlike penalty which placed them deep in their own territory and effectively ended the game. *damn I loved playing High school football*
Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the two tailed swallowtail butterfly aka Papalio multicaudata.
Today’s picture is of some of the fall calves on a nice fall evening.