175 Grams: Thursday Night Lights

by | April 14, 2014, 4:34am 0

Our first week of gorgeous weather also brought us three games. On top of the local high school weekend league, we also schedule games during the week on an ad hoc basis, usually during a regularly scheduled practice. Having the turf and lights once a week is making us a popular destination this year, and I suspect many of those practices will be filled with games from here on out.

Our first two practices were fairly uneventful, but I did get some great news. The Baller, one of our really promising players from the fall, finally started showing up to practice again. I thought he had quit, but apparently he, and I quote, “just really hates the cold.” Consequently, I may start calling him Buttercup.

The last practice was our first game of the week. We were playing School A, a team we had zero experience with. I had no idea if we were going to get steamrolled, do the flattening ourselves, or something in between. Either way, this was our first real game under the lights, and everyone was excited.

Both Varsity and JV were playing in this game, but we opened with some Varsity-only lines to gauge our opponent. We surged to a 3-0 lead with ease, and it looked to me that we had already thrown a knockout punch. A rookie mistake.

I started sprinkling in a couple JV players, getting to the point where our lines were decent but a bit inexperienced. We pulled, forced another turnover (our defense was locking people down all night), and then got completely screwed as School A threw zone after the turn. We didn’t have a line called for that, and the inexperienced players didn’t recognize what was going on. That offensive possession didn’t last long. Whoops.

I made sure each of our lines for the rest of the game could counter zone. It hurt the evenness of playing time, especially because even our Varsity players were struggling a bit to execute a zone offense. The contest stayed close from there, but we took half 8-4 on a gutty layout by Master Chief.

We buckled down in the second half, deciding in the huddle to throw exclusively man defense and trust our athleticism. This was an excellent decision, and full disclaimer, the idea came from the team. The intensity after the huddle was insane, and the defense was smothering. There seemed to be a thousand times I thought we were going to come away with a callahan, and The Tornado was inches away at one point (he caught it, but was just out of bounds). It wasn’t too long before the game was officially put to bed on a high arcing hammer from The Tornado (who else?) to Teddy Roosevelt.

Final Score: 11 – 6

I was at a coaching clinic during the weekend so I missed our Varsity game. They had to play savage, but they pulled it out. Buckets.

Final Score: 15 – 11

The JV game was similarly short on numbers at only eight players. Our opponent had the entire Persian Army with them, so we borrowed a few players to help out. We got killed (and all four of our points were scored by a borrowed player) but it was once again a blast. There were enormous improvements over our last game, including strings of more than two completions, and some kids had their first ever in-game catches. Confidence and skills are growing at a fantastic rate. We may even win a game this year.

Final Score: 4 – 15

Notable Players

Megaman – Struggles a bit making short dishy throws, but has an absolute cannon of a flick. Megaman was one of our best players when we began, but he’s a quiet kid and deferred too often in the fall, stunting his development. The game against School A was the breakout game I’d be waiting for. He made smart plays, let loose a couple big shots, and even was the focal point of the offense on multiple occasions. It was completely out of character and all kinds of exciting.

The Cog – This kid has such great balance on his throws. No one else on the team pivots and extends as much as him. He broke marks all night with smooth flicks, and found every single hole in the cup. And yet I get most excited when he moves to cutting, since I know the back and forth he has with The Tornado is the stuff that keeps other coaches up at night.

Pisces – I’m confident 95% of people reading this, if not more, have been throwing flick for so long they take it for granted. Pisces has been struggling with it since the fall, and it’s definitely been damaging to her confidence. This stuff is tough on coaches, too – kids aren’t idiots, and you can only play the positivity card so long. But! But! She finally got it during the JV game. And I don’t mean, “Oh, she was 1/5, but that one was really good, so who cares about the rest.” I mean, she was pushing 90% and every throw was stable, flat, and leading the receivers. I’m still smiling about it.

Quotes of the Week

“I’m really glad The Tornado is on our team.” – Pisces

Plays of the Week

We were up 7-4 during our night game, and I really wanted to hit halftime up four to halt any momentum School A might be building. The Tornado rushed and overthrew a scoring opportunity. School A got it into the hands of their best player and working it up to midfield, but The Surgeon managed to knock away a wild dump throw. Confidence undeterred, The Tornado picked up the disc, surveyed the field, and let loose a blazing 40 yard flick to the front corner of the endzone to a streaking MasterChief. It took a twisting, left handed layout, but Chief pulled it down and we took half on a huge note.

Bonus: We got it on video. That’ll be on the highlight reel.

Runner Up: We played a few rounds of Hot Box at practice on day. Rather than cutting in and out, The Baller (I mean, Buttercup) was literally posting up inside the scoring box, calling for people to just lob the disc to him. It was the best (and decently effective to boot) – I’m glad he’s back.


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