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December 02, 2007

STATE CHAMPS

The Far West Steelers (11-0) faced the Gilbert Monsoon (11-0) at Chaparral High School yesterday. In 11 games, Gilbert had allowed ZERO POINTS. THAT IS ZERO. Generally, it is difficult to beat a team when you can't score. Two things ended yesterday--their string of shutouts and their string of victories. My oldest son Jake played offensive line for the Far West Steelers in the Jr. PeeWee (9-10-11) Pop Warner league in Phoenix. Never played a lick of defense all year. Then the kid that Jake shared time with on offense broke his arm midway through the first QTR. Jake played both ways the entire game after playing a total of maybe 10 defensive plays the entire season.

We played the entire first half on our end of the field and aside from a huge long run, we allowed them to dominate us. Our offense was only on the field for a total of 14 plays in the first half. But at the end of the first half, we were only down 16-7. But they had to kick to us.

The opening kickoff, we punched them in the mouth. 7-8 yard carries, one right after the next. Got the score back to 16-14. We onside kick every time. I was working the chains and guy on one end told the line judge, "You wanna see an onside kick worked to perfection--watch this." And like clockwork, we had the kick back and four plays later, we were up 21-16. That was great until they scored with 5 minutes left to go up 24-21 after we fumbled the ball away to them. They have the ball back and go for the dagger. Run a reverse pass and the kid fumbles the ball. We recover. And then go four and out. The game was over, but they need one first down. Third down and 4. We stop them and call out last time out. 1:13. Fourth down. Either they get a first down and win or we stop them and get the ball back with a minute left. Stoped a half a yard short and now we have the ball, down 3.

First play, we run off tackle for 7 yards. :50 left. The next play our QB throws a 45 yard bomb hits the kid in stride to take the lead back. As soon as he let it go, the game was over. Just a perfect pass. We intercept their desperation pass at the end in one of the best games I have ever watched. 27-24.

Sorry to give you the longwinded version of a Pop Warner story, but we spent the entire drive over and most of the last week talking about what it takes to be champions. Five times in the last two years, he has sat next to me and watched undefeated teams lose their first game in the playoffs. Wick and Blue Ridge this season. Wick, Seton, and Round Valley last season. I have been telling Jake all year that you win the game on the practice field. You win it by preparing. You win it by outhitting your opponent. By out executing them. And when it is 4th down and you need a yard or it is fourth down and you need a stop, you win it by taking it. Round Valley beat Wickenburg by taking the game from them on two 4th and 1's. SL finished off BR by MacArthur taking the game away on 7 yard out on 4th and 5 inside the 20.

Jake wasn't supposed to start and had a terrible game two weeks before. Never played Defense. And all of the sudden, there he is getting his number called and playing every down when his team needs it. And he did it on the practice field. By working hard all year. Hard work and preparation showed up. I was screaming with :25 left at Jake "WHAT PLAY YOU GONNA RUN? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLAY?" Victory Formation. Take a knee. When that is the very last play that you run for the entire year, that is the best feeling in the world. Heck of a life lesson to learn at 10. And the kids on his team were just awesome.

And afterwards, he didn't even have time to change out of his undershirt and game pants before we went to ASU for the Devils game.

Posted by Justin at December 2, 2007 09:29 AM