The cruel mistress Misery has bestowed her annual blight upon our poor little football team. Yes, the October long weekend has once again smashed our hopes and dreams of winning the flag football tournament.
For the unfamiliar: sixteen teams from Southern Ontario gather to compete. Each plays six games, and then there are three playoff rounds. If you wish, read of our dismal failure two years ago, and our so-so performance last year, to fully understand our team's humble history.
We really did plan on winning this year. Seriously, we did! And to that end, we made a few roster modifications, as follows:
The same old guys:
David "just throw it to me" G.
John "never underestimate your opponent" J.
Todd "please don't break my nose again or my wife will kill me and you" K.
Justin "my only skill is counting to 5" Cook
The new guys:
Josh "that's not what other teams do" F.
Ray "having my name legally changed to Mr. Speed" D.
Paris "get in my way and I'll crush you like a bug" C.
In planning, we had somehow come to the conclusion that our approach over the past couple of years just wasn't working. Perhaps it was time for a new strategy. No, strike that, perhaps it was time for a strategy, any in fact.
So we talked. We discussed plays; we discussed defensive positions; we discussed possible scenarios. "What if they overload a zone? What if Paris accidentally kills someone by running over them? What if Ray gets another knee in the groin?" Some questions went unanswered, others we planned for (including potential jail/hospital time).
Also, as any good football team knows, practice is absolutely critical to the success of the team. So we practiced. Twice. And unfortunately, Paris – our new quarterback – missed half of those practices. But four of us got valuable mental practice the night before, as we all went to watch Invincible, a fantastically scripted [true] football movie featuring perhaps the best underdog story ever told. As far as I'm concerned, I didn't need to have played football even once before in my life, Marky Mark gave us all the inspiration we needed to win that tournament, and maybe even the next Super Bowl too.
So basically, coming into the tournament, we had little more than no practice, and a new quarterback who hadn't had the opportunity to learn our playing styles (yes, losing is still a style). We did however, know that if the other teams played like we'd planned them to, that we'd be ready for it.
And amazingly enough, they did!
We were off to a rough start. In our first game, we were down 2-0, and I was missing half of my index finger, torn off in a misplaced flag grab. It was heart-rending. But rather than get desperate as we've done in times past, we pulled it together. We realized that allowing our opponent to score touchdowns was directly inhibiting our chances of winning. So we stopped them. They didn't score another, and we scored three, thereby taking the game.
We also stopped the next four teams. The scores were as follows: 2-0, 4-0, 5-1 (though I swear it was 5-0), and another 5-1. We have never won that many games, nor scored that many touchdowns; not even when playing XBOX with the computer's team on 'retarded' setting.
Before playing the last team, we said we'd ease up to save energy for the playoffs. We eased up too much, and they beat us 4-2.
There were some notable plays during the day by all team members. I don't remember which games they happened, I just remember talking about them over beer. Both David and Josh caught beautiful interceptions, possibly both for touchdowns (I don't really remember). John caught some seriously long touchdown passes. Paris had some nice runs. (to fully appreciate the weight of that sentence, picture Goliath running and juking, then you'll know what I mean). Ray of course did some great running. But his most memorable play was when he appeared out of nowhere to recover a fumble for a nice touchdown! And Todd, besides showing off his leprous feet, made solid plays all day. As for me, my only highlights of the day revolved around actually catching the ball. Oh, and giving Brent (defector from our team) a purple nurple, that was enjoyable too.
I'm so pained over what happened in the playoffs though, that I'd like to get through it as quickly as possible. Basically, we should have won. We were the better team, without a doubt. We made a couple of dumb mistakes which led to us being tied 1-1. Now this is where it gets ugly…
Picture it: we're tied, and the game is nearing its finish. We're near mid-field, and we've expended 3 of our 4 downs. The whistle blows. The crowd (6 people) go silent. This is it. This is the last play of the game. We could play it safe, go into overtime, and most likely win it then. But no, instead we get caught up in the moment, and go for the glory. Our receivers run deep into the end-zone. The ball is thrown, far and high. The ball is caught! But it's not in the arms of any of our players, instead it lies in the bosom of our enemy. He has the entire field to get past only our quarterback, and he manages it. Our hearts sink into our stomach – and perhaps further yet – as he continues running for a very improbable touchdown, and a very disheartening victory.
And so ends another year, infinitely more depressing than any prior to it; simply because we actually had a chance to win this year.
But we'll go again next year! And you can be sure that I'll write about it, regardless of the outcome! And hopefully, looking back, hopefully we practice at least three times next year…