September 11th a date we all remember. It has been 14 years since our country was attacked by terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Every year the football teams have a Patriot’s game to honor all veterans. How befitting that the Patriot’s game fell on September 11th this year. Especially, the big cross town rival game between the Trojans and the Traverse City West Titans. Prior to the game, both teams had players who were quoted in the newspaper in anticipation of the game, and of course, our Captain Jacob was one of them. To a player, each spoke about giving it his all but true to Jacob fashion, he was quoted to say he wanted to fight hard for the veterans who had fought for our country. Can you see why I admire this young man? Always thinking of others. He is this mix of compassion and man of steel. Just like the poster featured in this journal! Yes, I had to create a new poster with his name change because this was the game the posters were to be hung along the stadium fence. Steelman is ripe for a Superman theme and as you see that’s just what I did.
There were lots of tail gate parties and our group was no exception. Mom Rachel organized and planned a great football tail gait, and there was lots of great finger food including chicken wings, cowboy caviar, veggies and dip, etc. Long before the game started there were activities and cheering in the stands, as people showed up early to get not only a good seat but a seat period. This game typically has over 10,000 people in attendance, but those of us related to a player are able to sit in a roped off section reserved for parents. And grandma counts as a parent once removed so yes, I was in this section. But we sent Zander in early to spread blankets to reserve our spot within the section. We had great seats at the 50 yard line and about half way up so the view was excellent. Thank you Zander!
Once again I discovered an error in the program listing Jacob as number 79 so once again grandma trucked to the press box to correct this egregious error. This year the Trojans were the visitors. Since both teams are Traverse City teams and share the same Thirlby field, one team has to be the visitors, and it was our turn. That meant walking to the other side of the stadium climbing the steps to the press box and being met with a rather large security guard who would not let me pass. He didn’t care about my grandmother status even when I explained the problem and displayed my sweatshirt with the number 78. He said he would see what he could do – yeah, grandma has been around long enough to not quite believe that would occur. But what choice did I have? Sizing up the situation, I knew I could not win so I headed back down the stairs. But as I began the walk to the other side of the stadium I spotted the announcer. I know who he is because he attends our church. So I went up to him and asked “are you the announcer?” to which he replied “yes.” So as we walked I explained the mislabeled number and he acknowledged the problem which gave me greater hope the mistake would be corrected. In addition, Randy also gave it a go and ran into the same security guard as I, but he then went to the concession stand and after explaining the problem was shown another route to the press box. Randy was told it had already been taken care of by someone named Joe. As it turned out it was announced correctly so all was good.
Prior to the game veterans walked onto the field carrying flags and both teams filed past this amazing group of men and women and shook each one’s hand. The announcer paid tribute to the fallen local soldiers in the past year by calling off each name including the school they attended. The Coast Guard helicopter flew over at the end. It was very moving. For all our collective political differences, one can’t help feel great pride in our country, and everyone seemed touched by this pre-game event.
This game was nerve wracking. I don’t know how else to describe it. For whatever reason, the cross town rivalry is greater than playing against any other team. Maybe because both teams have a huge turn-out and the noise level is enough to blow off the roof if the stadium had one. Titans had lost their first two games this season, and the Trojans had won their first two, but those stats did not make a darn lick of difference. Both teams wanted this win badly, and the tension and nerves were visible.
As Captain, Jacob was one of the players to be present for the coin toss. I never did hear over the noise who actually won but I suspect it was the Trojans because they elected to play defense the first quarter and receive the third. I’ve learned that this is often the choice of the coin toss winner. So the Trojans kicked off the first quarter to the Titans who caught and ran the ball to the 47 yard line. The Titans moved the ball down the field and achieved another first down but they were unsuccessful in scoring so the ball passed to the Trojans. Likewise the Trojans moved the ball down the field but were unable to score. They also received a couple penalty plays for false starts which was an indication they were so pumped that they jumped the gun. Ball back to the Titans. They were able to make a few first downs and bring the ball down to the 2 yard line but the Trojans held them, and the first quarter ended with a score of 0 to 0. Did I mention it was nerve wracking? Watching the ball go back and forth, first downs, penalties, both teams close to a touch down but none achieved was excruciating to watch. I’m already starting to get hoarse from yelling.
In the second quarter, the Titans finally managed to quickly score a touch down plus the extra point which put 7 points on the score board. Ball back to the Trojans who ran some great plays, and they too scored their first touch down plus the extra point so the score is now tied. Ball back to the Titans who did a lot of pass plays. Some were incomplete but others were successful racking up first downs and their second touch down. They attempted a 2 point conversion, but the Trojans successfully stopped them so their score only increased to 13. Ball returns to the Trojans who were not able to make a first down so got in punting formation. The Titans received a penalty for roughing the kicker which gave the Trojans a first down. With this break, the Trojans were able to score their second touch down plus the extra point so the Trojans squeaked by the Titans with 14 points. Ball back to the Titans, and after several plays, and the help of a 10 yard penalty against the Trojans, the Titans were able to score another touchdown again giving them the lead. Once again the Titans attempted a two point conversion, and once again, they were stopped by the Trojans. Score is now Titans 19 to the Trojans 14. Trojan ball and they came very close to scoring another touchdown but the clock ran out, and it was half time.
Half time break and the Titan school band took the field and gave an impressive performance. The Trojan band entered the field for the final song and the two bands filled the stadium with wonderful sound. Now typically half time break is a good opportunity to use the restroom, or grab a snack, but mind you there are 10,000 or more people in attendance. Half of whom are women. I knew the ladies restroom would have a line that exceeded the break time allotted so grandma choose to sit tight. (This becomes important.) With the Titan’s ahead, I didn’t dare miss a play. Third quarter begins and the Titans kicked the ball to the Trojans but on the 4th down they were forced to punt the ball to the Titans to move the ball farther down the field. Titan’s ball and they are playing hard and moving the ball down the field. They are only 2 yards away from a first down. During this period Jacob successfully tackled the quarterback but alas on the next play the Titan pass was complete, and they scored another touchdown plus the extra point. Score is now Titans 26 to Trojans 14. With several nerve wrecking plays, the Trojans managed to score another touchdown with 12.7 seconds left in the third quarter. However, the kick was no good so no extra point. Trojans score is now 20. Ball to Titans and we are into the 4th quarter. Titans had to punt the ball to the Trojans on their fourth down. In quick time, the Trojans scored another touchdown but again were unsuccessful in scoring the kick point so the score is now tied 26 to 26. The ball went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Each team’s defense was able to stop a touchdown. Have I mentioned it was nerve wrecking? My throat is now sore from screaming. But Jacob has played hard on both first string defense and offense the entire game so who am I to complain? With 19 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Titan coach called a time out. They have the ball and when they return the quarterback attempted a pass but it was incomplete. The quarter runs out and the game ends with a tie. But wait – you can’t have a tie in football! So after a short delay, Jacob is back for another coin toss to determine who goes first in a sudden death playoff. Im not sure that’s what they call it but it sounds good. Trojans won the toss and Captain Jacob elects to play defense first. Each team is given 4 tries to make a touch down at around the 20 yard line. On the Titan’s first play they attempted a pass which was intercepted by the Trojans!!!! (Can you imagine if I were that kid’s grandma?) Trojan ball and on their third attempt they scored!!!!! Nerve wracking and thrilling, with the final victory ours. Jacob played so hard the entire game. He had a couple of impressive plays in which he swatted one ball out of the air and the time he tackled the quarterback, but as often is the case, the glory goes to the quarterback and those who run the touchdowns. Those are the young men whose name is in the newspaper, but they can’t do what they do if the blocking line is weak. So it truly is a team effort.
Announcer comes over the speaker and tells the fans to stay seated as they are going to awarded the Olson trophy to the winning team. Remember when I elected to not use the ladies room at half time? Well my bladder is at the critical stage. One good sneeze and the team would be baptized as well as receiving a trophy. So I fought the crowds (who were not staying put as they were told mind you) and made my way to the ladies restroom. The only open stall had no door but at this point who cares? Relief, washed my hands, and decided to skip the dryer in the essence of saving time. But as fate would have it, I missed the trophy being awarded to the team and Captain Jacob. However, I managed to work my way down the field and take a few pics of the team proudly displaying the trophy. Got two big hugs from Jacob who was ringing wet from playing hard the entire game including overtime, but that sweat was winning juice so I did not mind.
I continue to have a scratchy throat today from all the yelling, but it was well worth it. I have 6 days until the next game to recover. Next game is Friday, September 18. It is a home game against Whitehall. Maybe I will see you there!
I apologize for not writing this blog sooner but I was also involved in a garage sale this weekend, and this was my first opportunity to write. Because of the garage sale, I missed Zander’s first game. Fortunately, they won even without my presence. Way to go Zander! For now, bragging granny signing off.