Al Gilman (asgilman) wrote,
Al Gilman

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Winning at football

[for those not of the Pompton Lakes High School class of 1959, you should understand that PLHS was a football-mad school and I was a nerd who was lucky not to get cut from the track team.]

In high school, I didn't play football.  My parents would not sign the parent consent form, on account of relatives with life-long football injuries. 

But coming from Pompton Lakes, you will appreciate how much it meant to me to, once in my life, be the _quarterback_ of a victorious football team.  Here's the story of how I quarterbacked our side to victory, once in my life.

You have to understand that it was a pick-up game.  The occasion was the METCO picnic in Lexington, MA.  METCO was a voluntary busing program in Lexington which brought Boston students to Lexington schools.  One of the features of the program was that each out-of-town student had a host family to serve as alternate/emergency contact during the school day.  To make this a more meaningful relationship, the commuter students spent one afternoon a month with their host family.  We were such a host family.  An additional bonding opportunity was the annual picnic, alternating between Lexington and Boston locations, where both home and host families were invited and all had a general good cookout and time.  At one of these events we decided to have a pickup football game, and somehow early in the game I managed to wangle my way into the quarterback position.

Here's how we won.  First off: talent.  We had the Principal on our side.  He served as my blocking back.  Nobody really wanted to get rude with him, so I had time to set up in the pocket.  Secondly, we had a colleague of mine who, although not supremely athletic, was a head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the game.  This meant that we had a "long bomb" threat.  I could sent him far down the field and a hail-mary pass would connect, because he could get under it as it came down and get to the ball before the opposition could just by reaching up.  (I think the operating rule was that two connected forward passes gained you a first down.)

But this was too obvious.  After two such go-deep plays, the entire opposing team would became the secondary, and my receiver was drowning in defenders.  This is where democracy, feminism, or what-you-may-call-it came to our rescue.  I saw that one of the mothers had progressed over the line of scrimmage and was totally free in the flat.  I lobbed a soft pass to her.  She was amazed, juggled the ball for a bit, and finally found the handle and hung on.  Voilà! we were un-stoppable.  They had to defend everyone, everywhere; and the long bomb was once again there when we wanted to use it.  So we rolled on to victory.

The reason this is reunion news has to do with why I could put the passes where they needed to be for the receivers to catch them.  I lay this up to the afternoons spent playing sandlot football in Chet Allen's back yard with our brothers Art and Bobby as receivers.  I think that's where I got a grip on how to throw a football.

Tags: class of 1959, plhs
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