Jonah's 8th-grade football team defeated a determined Dewitt squad earlier today with a last second goal line stand that will be remembered long after these boys stop dreaming of NFL glory. It was their second such defensive denial of the game.
Previously, with the ball spotted at the Grand Ledge one yard line, the Dewitt boys lined up for a fourth and inches first-down try.
All day long the Dewitt squad had run behind their huge left tackle, a surprisingly athletic eight-grader that was listed on the roster at 305 pounds. With their backs to the wall, the Junior Comets called on their goal line defense package to come in and plug the gaps. My son's task: stop the Panther's enormous left tackle from plowing a path through the Comet defense.
When the ball was snapped, the D-line fired off and stuffed the Dewitt runner for no gain. With the ball turned over to the Comets on downs, the scoring threat was averted.
The Ledge took an 18-7 lead into the fourth quarter, but that was quickly trimmed to 18-14. And, with time running out, Dewitt was threatening to score again. Masterfully working the ball down field in as fine a hurry-up offense as I have ever seen executed in eighth-grade play, the Junior Panthers were threatening to snatch the victory away from the Comets. With first-and-goal, a pair of timeouts and thirty seconds, they hammered away at the defense pushing the ball all the way to the Comet two yard line.
After their final timeout, with only twelve seconds left on the clock, the Junior Panthers hustled to the line of scrimmage where the ball was spotted less than six feet from victory. Once again they ran behind their massive left tackle, who by now was referred to by the Comets simply as, "Mountain."
Once again, the Comet defense held.
I have never been more inspired by of proud of my son's effort on a football field.
At the conclusion of the game, as we were slowly walking across the field with a chill wind blowing in our faces, Jonah said, "Dad, I hit that guy as hard as I could, and every time I did, it hurt."
Maybe so, son. But I am pretty certain it hurt him, too. And you have a win to show for it.