Lost & Found
Copyright© 2007 by Douglas Fox
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 29 - Kyle Martin goes to PSU seeking football glory. Read about his successes, failures and excesses as he tries to find his place in the world
I thought about what had happened as I showered. Was I interested in a relationship with Jen? No. Kelly seemed OK with what had happened last night. Was there any harm in three people having consensual sex together? I was almost finished with my shower when I remembered – what about birth control? I certainly was too drunk to think of using a condom with Jen last night, or this morning for that matter.
I had a lot of questions to resolve with Kelly and Jen. Certainly the most important question was how did Kelly feel today about me fucking Jen now that it was done. I was totally head over heels in love with Kelly and didn't want anything to screw that up.
I was nervous as I walked across the quad to meet the girls. I had this bad habit of screwing something up every fall going back to ninth grade. I'd gotten drunk and been grounded for a month in ninth grade. I had been seduced at the beach at the start of tenth grade and had lost Penny. I slept around and felt guilty and stopped communicating with Julie in eleventh grade. That cost me her as a girlfriend. I had blown out my knee in eleventh grade and nearly lost my chance at a college scholarship.
By some miracle I hadn't messed up when I was a senior. Penny had kept me sane while I tried to choose a college. That hadn't really worked out anyway. Everything blew up for me last fall – academics, being unfaithful to Penny and then the disastrous break up with her. Was my personal history going to repeat itself again?
I met Jen and Kelly at the bottom of the stairs to the dining hall. We went through the line for our food and then headed for a deserted table in the back. It wasn't hard to find one since we came near the end of the lunch period. We sat down and started to eat.
Jen broke the awkward silence first. "Can I say something?" Jen asked. "It would kill me if last night did anything to harm your relationship. You two are the best couple I know."
"How do you feel about what happened last night, Kyle?" Kelly asked.
"It scares me," I began. "I had sex with someone else. We're supposed to be in a committed relationship. How are you going to feel about this? I love you and don't want anything to screw up what we have together. Will having sex mess things up in our relationship?"
Kelly laughed, not exactly the response I expected. Kelly saw my reaction and stopped laughing. " 'Will having sex mess things up between us?' That is exactly the same question you asked last night, Kyle," Kelly explained. "I told you to go ahead and give Jen what she needed. My only concern about what happened last night is if it freaks you out too much, Kyle. I encouraged you to have sex with Jen and am comfortable that Jen would never do anything to break us up."
"I would never do anything like that," Jen confirmed.
"So you're OK with last night Kelly as long as I'm OK with it. Jen doesn't want to get in the middle of our relationship and mess it up. Can we just say, 'No harm, no foul, everything is good'?" I asked. Both girls nodded yes. "I do have one more concern. I was pretty drunk last night and I know I didn't have any condoms with me. I'm guessing Jen and I had unprotected sex. Do we have any worries there?"
"No, we're fine Kyle," Jen answered. "I'm on the pill and I'm faithful about taking it every single morning. You don't have to worry about surprises in nine months. I've was tested for STDs a couple months ago when Darrell and I started dating. He was tested too. There are no worries..." Jen's smile disappeared. "Shit! The bastard lied about me being the only one in his life. He never showed me the test results. It would be just like that SOB to lie about being clean too."
"Do you really think there could be a problem?" Kelly asked.
"I think all of us should get tested just to be safe," I said. We discussed it for a couple minutes and decided it would be prudent to visit Ritnour to be sure we didn't have any sexually transmitted diseases.
"So, we all got a little drunk last night and got crazy," I summarized. "You feel OK about what happened Kelly..." Kelly nodded yes. " ... and I'm OK with it if you're OK. Jen, you're not looking for anything more from me than normal friendship like we had before last night, right?"
"No, I don't want to get in the middle of your relationship with Kelly," Jen agreed.
"So, this is just a one-time thing, no harm, no foul," I said.
"Umm ... I'm not so sure about that part, Kyle," Kelly replied. Jen and I both stared at her. "You both had psych. You remember the lecture on human sexuality and heterosexuality versus homosexuality."
Both of us nodded yes. I wondered where my girlfriend was going with this.
"Heterosexuality and homosexuality aren't binary," Kelly continued. "If seven on the scale is totally heterosexual and one is totally homosexual, I'm probably a five or a six. I like guys a lot." Kelly smiled back when she saw my relieved smile. "You both know I had some girl on girl sexual experiences in high school when I wasn't allowed to date boys."
"I know," I agreed. "We've talked about it. Wasn't that just curiosity?"
"Mostly, but not entirely, Kyle," Kelly explained. "Once in awhile I enjoy what Jen and I did in September or what we did last night.
"I probably would rate myself a four on that scale," Jen said. "Kyle, you probably didn't know I've had a couple lesbian affairs in high school and one here in college."
"Put me down as a seven," I said. "I have never been with a guy. Being with girls is too much fun to consider hooking up with a guy."
"Does it have to be a one-time thing if we're all comfortable with what happened last night?" Kelly replied. "I had fun together with the three of us."
"I had fun too, Jen said. " ... but I don't want to get in the way of you two."
"I don't remember last night so I have no idea if I had fun," I replied.
"Trust me honey," Kelly replied. "You had fun."
"You certainly did," Jen added.
"I think we need some ground rules if we're contemplating repeating what happened last night," I said. "I see all kinds of possibilities for trouble if we don't."
The three of us discussed things for another ten or fifteen minutes before we hammered out acceptable ground rules:
1. This was allowed only by informed mutual consent of all three of us. If we were as drunk as last night it wouldn't happen.
2. Under no circumstances would Jen and I or Kelly and Jen have sex without the third party being present, awake and participating in the liaison.
3. This was going to be an occasional fling, not an every weekend thing.
4. Kelly and I would treat Jen like a close, very dear friend but not as our lover.
Jen headed back to her room. Kelly and I grabbed a Sunday paper at the Mix and headed for my room. We spent the afternoon hanging out in my room the way we did most Sundays reading the paper and keeping in touch with our friends.
Our thumping Michigan State got big play in the sports section. The writer speculated that Zack Hayes should be considered one of the leaders in the quest for the Heisman Trophy. I agreed completely. He also praised our team's late season surge, both offensively and defensively.
Michigan's upset of Ohio State got lots of space too. The Wolverines apparently jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they bashed the Buckeyes. Ohio State's loss gave us sole possession of the Big Ten championship. Oklahoma struggled to win their game yesterday. The defense barely protected a big lead in the fourth quarter. That wouldn't help them any in the polls tonight.
My friends' teams, Florida, Notre Dame, Rutgers, and West Virginia, all won. Congratulatory e-mails sailed back and forth between the five of us. Ed sat for his game. Drew did spot duty running for the Mountaineers, gaining 21 yards on five carries. Jeremy did his usual outstanding job at linebacker – 11 tackles, two for a loss and a sack. Hal made his first appearance in Rutgers' game against Cincinnati. The kicker pulled a hamstring in the first half. Hal handled the three kickoffs, and two extra points in the second half of his game.
Coach Burton announced the practice schedule for the week at dinner. We would study video from our game against Michigan State for half the practice and then study film from Ohio State for the remainder of practice on Monday. Tuesday we would spend our practice time working on fundamentals – blocking, tackling, ball control and fumble recovery. The whole team cheered when Coach Burton reminded us that we had off from Tuesday after dinner until Sunday's team dinner.
After dinner most of the team went over to the auditorium in the Lasch Building to watch the BCS Post Game show. USC and LSU stayed at #1 and #2. We maintained #3 in the Harris and USA Today polls. The computer finally yielded, edging us above Oklahoma to give us the third position in the BCS standings. We were looking pretty. All we needed was for USC or LSU to falter in the final weeks of the season.
Jeremy and Notre Dame hosted USC next Saturday in South Bend. Hopefully the Fighting Irish could take down the Trojans. In two weeks LSU would face the winner of the SEC-East. At the moment Ed's Florida Gators were tied with the Georgia Bulldogs for the lead in the division. The two teams faced each other Saturday. The winner would take on the Fighting Tigers the following Saturday. Maybe if the Gators beat Georgia they could do better with Elijah Carter in a game played on neutral ground.
On Monday I wrapped up my research for my history term paper after lunch before I went to Poly Sci. The video study at practice went well. The coaches had nothing but good things to say about the first string. Coach Peterson and Coach Schneider had quite a few comments for Chip to improve his play. I was glad my friend understood the purpose of the review. He didn't let their criticisms faze him. He simply took notes, nodded and moved on. That is a good quality to have when you're a first year quarterback being force fed our complicated offense each week.
Kelly and I would have liked to spend some time making love before we headed for home. Unfortunately that wasn't possible. That was also good news. Kelly's period started that day which meant we weren't going to become parents thanks to our carelessness three weeks earlier.
Both of us were too busy with classes anyway. Kelly had a Philosophy midterm on Wednesday morning. Both of us had a History 20 midterm Wednesday afternoon. We were forced to spend our evenings studying.
Wednesday's history midterm was easy, at least for me. We covered American History through the mid-nineteenth century, right up to the start of the Civil War. It was a standard blue book essay test. I was confident I aced the test.
Kelly and I walked back to our dorms together. Charlie Taylor was meeting me in the lobby of Hartranft Hall at 2:45. I was giving him a ride back to Lancaster on the way home. The rest of the Lancaster County contingent on our team had other arrangements – Mr. Umble was taking Bev and Christian home. Zack was dropping Leigh Ann off on his way home. Poor Kelly had to wait until after dinner for a ride back to Pittsburgh. Her mom and dad were sending her younger brother Mike to pick her up. He left right after school and wouldn't get to State College until 6:15 or so.
Kelly and I stopped off outside Hartranft.
"God, I'm going to miss you, Kelly," I declared. I gave my lover a hug and a kiss.
"I'll write you every day, Kyle," Kelly replied. "I'm going to miss you so much." Kelly returned the kiss deeply. I responded, with my tongue. The kiss lasted too long. We broke it to the sound of someone nearby clearing his throat.
"Sorry to interrupt, Kyle," Charlie Taylor said politely. "Are we going to leave soon?"
"Yeah, sorry, Charlie," I said. I gave Kelly one last kiss. "I love you totally, Kell. Have a good holiday."
"You too, Kyle," Kelly replied. "Have a safe trip home." She gave me a final hug and kiss before heading for her dorm.
"Give me a minute to get my bag upstairs, Charlie," I said. "I'll be down in two minutes."
"No problem, Kyle," Charlie answered. "I appreciate you giving me a ride home."
Charlie and I carried our bags across campus to my car. Mom was going to be totally shocked when I showed up at home with a bag full of clean clothes. Trevor Conwell made an excellent laundryman.
Traffic was heavy heading east out of State College until we passed Porter's Mill where Rt. 322 turned back into a four lane divided highway. Traffic was bad around Harrisburg until we reached Rt. 283. It was busy again as we passed Lancaster. I got off at Rt. 23 and followed it into the east end of Lancaster. I dropped Charlie off at his house on Franklin Street, not too far from McCaskey High School. Charlie was a pleasant riding companion. We agreed I'd pick him up on Sunday at 1:00 pm.
I pulled up in front of my house about twenty minutes later. It was ten minutes before six, just barely in time for our families' dinner time. I grabbed my bags and headed across the lawn to the house.
"I'm home," I yelled when I came in the front door.
"We're in the kitchen, Kyle," my sister Liz yelled back.
I heard what sounded like a stampede of miniature elephants were coming through the living room and heading my way. I kneeled down and threw out my arms for my nephews.
"Unka Ky!" Unka Ky!" Noah and Conner yelled as they ran for me as fast as toddlers could go. I hugged both boys together as they hugged my neck and gave me sloppy kisses on the cheek. The boys stepped back. Both held out their arms and begged, "Plane? Plane?" as they waggled their 'wings.'
"OK," I agreed. "Connor?" One twin snapped his head towards me immediately. I inspected him as I lifted him over my head and gave him a brief plane ride around the entry hallway. I needed to learn to tell my nephews apart again. I couldn't tell which was which anymore.
Noah waited expectantly for his turn. I put Connor down and lifted Noah up and gave him his plane ride. The twins toddled off towards the kitchen. I left my bags in the hallway and followed them.
Noah and Connor looked like they had grown three or four inches since last summer. They had put on weight too. The twins headed for Mom, who was finishing off our dinner at the stove. The twins surrounded Mom and tugged on her pant legs.
"Mom-mom ... cookie?" "Cookie?" the boys begged.
"No boys," Mom said. "See Lizzy to wash up for dinner." She pointed towards my sister who was putting my little brother Hunter in his high chair. The twins toddled over to Liz and held their hands up.
"Hey, Kyle, welcome home," Liz said as she herded the twins to the sink.
"Welcome home, Kyle," Mom added. "Go wash up, dinner is in a couple minutes."
"Sure thing, Mom," I replied. "What's for dinner?"
"Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans," Mom answered. "We have cake for desert."
"Cool!" I replied. "That sounds great. Do I have time to take my stuff upstairs to my room before dinner?"
"Yes and no," Mom said. "You have time but you've been moved downstairs to the basement. The two little monkeys..." Noah and Connor giggled at Mom's reference to them. " ... started getting out of their cribs last month. They have the bunk beds in your old room now."
"OK, Mom," I said. I headed back to the hall and dragged my bags downstairs. The dresser was full of my extra clothes that I left behind last summer when I went to college. I dropped my things, washed up downstairs and headed back to the kitchen to join my family.
I bumped into Andy at the top of the steps. Andy grinned and exclaimed, "Big bro! It's good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, Andy," I said as we did our standard handshake, clasp and knuckle bump. I followed Andy over the kitchen table and had seats. Dad appeared seconds behind us.
We said grace and then dug into Mom's delicious food, except Hunter of course. My little brother had started having rice cereal a couple weeks ago in addition to his breast feeding.
I enjoyed catching up with my family's news of events around home and school. I had a lot less catching up this Thanksgiving compared to last year since I seen everyone except the little ones in the last five or six weeks at school.
After dinner I unpacked my things and then started making phone calls. Dad gave me the phone number for Mr. Randolph, the descendant of one of the soldiers, Major John Randolph. Mr. Randolph was friendly when I called. He was retired and welcomed me to stop by to read through his great-great uncle's correspondence. We agreed I would stop by Friday afternoon. Mr. Randolph gave me directions to his house in the center of New Holland.
My second call was to my high school coach, Coach Caffrey. I called to make sure I'd be welcome to visit our high school team prior to the start of Friday night's playoff game. He not only invited me to visit, Coach Caffrey asked me to deliver the pre-game pep talk that was traditional for our post-Thanksgiving playoff game when the college age former Wolverines players came home.
Coach and I talked for awhile about how our respective seasons went. I complimented him for helping the Wolverines pull out of their early season tailspin. Coach Caffrey complimented me on my season. I ended the call by thanking him for trusting me with the pre-game pep talk.
I joined Andy after I finished with my calls. We worked out on Andy's weight set in the basement. I gave Andy a few tips on adjusting his workout based I what I had learned from Coach Collins, the Lions conditioning coach. Andy could do a few things to help with his speed and explosiveness. We headed out for a three mile run when we finished with the weights.
I showered after the run and then gave Hal Long a call. We compared plans. He was going to the Wolverines playoff game with his girlfriend, Tammy and her close friend, Kathy Trimble. I said I'd catch up to them at the game.
I headed upstairs and joined Liz, Andy, Noah and Connor in the family room to watch TV. The twins had their bathes and were dressed in their jammies. Andy and Liz both were working on homework.
About ten minutes before nine pm, Andy said, "Boys, time to put your toys away. It's bedtime." Noah and Conner continued playing with the trucks they had on the floor. "Put your toys away or no story tonight." That got the twins' attention. They gathered up their blocks and trucks and dumped them in the toy chest in the corner. Connor sorted through the books on the shelf and carried one over to Andy.
"Book?" Connor asked as he handed 'Dr. Suess' The Cat in the Hat' to his father. Connor and Noah looked expectantly.
"Again?" Andy asked. "I read 'The Cat in the Hat' to you three times in the last week. Don't you want something different?"
"Cat!" Connor insisted. Noah chimed in "Cat!"
Andy sighed and then suggested, "Maybe your uncle would read to you tonight." He gave me a glance. I nodded yes.
Noah and Connor scampered over and asked hopefully, "Unka Ky, book?"
"OK, guys," I said. "What's the deal on story time?" Andy and Liz explained story time and putting the twins to bed. The twins gave their father kisses and then gave their Aunt Liz kisses to before they headed upstairs with me.
The twins could do steps, but weren't the most graceful at it yet. I followed the boys upstairs to my old bedroom. It had been redecorated in toddler style with a Disney theme. The bunk beds were taken apart so neither twin had a top bunk. I helped both twins into one bed and sat down with them. They settled down immediately when I started reading to them. Both boys were dead to the world by the time I reached the end of Geisel's masterpiece. I carefully moved Noah over to his bed and tucked both boys in for the night.
I went back downstairs and rejoined Andy and Liz in the family room. Andy felt he had to go upstairs at the next commercial to check on the boys. He complimented me for being a good uncle when he got downstairs again. I hung out with Andy and Liz until the eleven o'clock news came on and then I went to bed.
I got to be a total bum on Thanksgiving Day. I slept until eleven AM, grabbed some breakfast and then vegged out in front of the TV most of the afternoon with Dad, Andy and the twins. We watched football and goofed around with the twins until their nap time.
I cheered as Tampa Bay's defense put a hurting on the Dallas Cowboys. As a die-hard Eagles fan, anyone who knocked the Cowboys around was worth cheering for. I saw Pete Klein, my former teammate, make some nice plays on special teams. Unfortunately Romo and 'Boys pulled the game out in the end with a fourth quarter drive to win 17-14.
The Detroit Lions versus the St. Louis Rams was a yawner. Will, Abby and Abby's parents joined us around 4:30 pm. Will and Mr. Hendricks sat with Dad, Andy and me to watch football while the women finished preparations for dinner. I didn't mind when Mom called everyone for dinner, the game was an exercise in ineptitude.
Mom made a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Hendricks' pumpkin pie was up to her usual high standards. Will announced his and Abby's plans for Christmas. They were flying out to Chicago with the Hendricks's to visit their Illinois relatives. Mom and Dad took it well. I guess I had softened the blow of not having all your kids home for the holidays last year.
My own Christmas plans were up in the air, subject to our bowl invitation. I certainly hoped to be home this year. That would mean we were playing in the Orange Bowl for the national championship. If not, I'd spend my Christmas day in the pool at our hotel or at the beach in sunny southern California while our team prepared to play in the Rose Bowl again.
In the evening game the Green Bay Packers played against the Miami Dolphins. I felt bad for Green Bay. The team still missed Brett Favre after all these years. They were predictable on offense. The offensive line didn't give much protection and the quarterback didn't throw passes more than five yards. It was a recipe for poor offense. I figured the Packers would take another stab at a new quarterback with the high draft pick they were almost guaranteed to have next season.
Friday morning I slept in. It was glorious. I got up around eleven, had lunch, read the paper and then drove over to New Holland to meet Harold Randolph.
Mr. Randolph was a friendly gentleman in his late seventies who lived in a large brick house on Main Street in the center of New Holland. His family had been prominent in the town for generations. Mr. Randolph was a history buff too and was delighted someone took an interest in the old letters, photos and things had he kept safe in his attic over his lifetime.
Mr. Randolph's attic was filled with wooden shelves holding his collection of documents. He had close to two hundred years of family papers, letters, photos and official documents dating back to when the Randolph family moved to the little village of New Design in Earl Township in 1801. The Randolph family supplied the area with doctors, lawyers, township supervisors and later borough councilmen when New Holland was incorporated.
Mr. Randolph sorted through the stacks of material, finally locating the bundle of letters and documents pertaining to Brevet Major John Fulton Randolph, Jr. U.S. Army, 4th Artillery Regiment. The packet was tied together with a strip of cloth. Mr. Randolph untied the bundle and spread the documents out on the table under the light in the center of the attic.
The first thing I looked at was a nineteenth century photo made from a glass plate negative. Mr. Randolph said it was a photo made in 1850 of Major Randolph before he traveled to his posting in the harbor defenses of Charleston, South Carolina. He was a handsome young man dressed in his finest ceremonial uniform with sash and sword at his side. He was thirty-one at the time the photo was taken.
I brought along my digital camera to photograph the letters and other documents so I wouldn't trouble Mr. Randolph all day. Mr. Randolph held the letters or documents while I photographed them. I browsed some of them as I photographed them.
One particularly poignant one from "Your loving son, Johnny", barely fourteen, told about how home sick he was during his first year at West Point. I found references to half a dozen Civil War generals that were his classmates – Joe Hooker, John Sedgwick, Jubal Early, Braxton Bragg, John Pemberton, and William French.
Jubal Early's reputation for irascibility was started long before the Civil War. Early was a long time rival of John Randolph and his cousin Randolph Luther. Another letter celebrated the fact the John had beaten Early in the final class standings. John placed #17, one ahead of Early. Randolph Luther ranked #20 in the class of 1837.
I read his accounts of battles during the Seminole War and in the Mexican War. His description of Monterey was so vivid that I felt like I was with Captain Randolph as he described manhandling his two howitzers to the top of a small hill outside the city in the darkness. His two guns opened on the Mexican city at dawn, eventually causing the breach in the wall that General Taylor's storming party used to take the city. He was brevetted to Major for this action.
I was shocked to see that I had spent the entire afternoon with Mr. Randolph reading and photographing the documents. He stayed with me the entire time, happily sharing his wealth of knowledge of his ancestors. I had found a kindred spirit in love of history in spite the fifty plus years difference in age. I thanked him profusely and promised I would send him a copy of my term paper when it was finished.
Supper was a grab bag of leftovers served early after reheating in the microwave. Mom and Dad had to haul the kids over to my grandparents. Alex was picking Liz up to go to the football game with another couple. Andy missed our dinner altogether. The football boosters and coaches arranged a special pre-game meal for the team at the high school before they headed to the game. I had to head over to Brandon McCafferty's house. He was riding to the game with me.
Our playoff game against East Pennsboro High School was held at their field in Enola, across the river from Harrisburg. The field featured small stands by the standards I was accustomed to. The stands would literally be standing room only with all the fans that came to our games.
Brandon and I found Hal, Tammy, and Kathy in the stands before the game. I was surprised spot Penny Edwards with them. After greeting everyone I commented to Penny, "I thought you'd be in New Jersey with Marco this weekend."
"Marco?" Penny harrumphed. "No, the two of us broke up."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I replied.
"Are you and ... uh, Kelly ... still together?" Penny asked.
"Definitely," I replied. "I hope you find someone to make you as happy as Kelly and I are."
"I guess I'll find that guy someday," Penny replied.
Hal and I excused ourselves once everyone was settled in. We had a team meeting to attend. Hal and I found our way to the visitors' locker room. Our team, being poorly seeded, was considered the visiting team.
Half a dozen of our past teammates were already in the locker room with the current team members as they dressed for the game. Zack Hayes and I greeted each other warmly. Stan Humphreys, Karl Weaver, Jerry Morton, Pete Ellis, Jason Harting and Kenny Weaver all made it. We talked and caught up on each other's lives while the team went outside to warm up for the game.
All of us were in college except Pete. Stan was a senior, Karl and Jerry were juniors and Jason and Kenny were freshmen. Stan, Jerry, and Kenny still played football. Stan and Jerry were at Division III schools. Kenny played linebacker at Villanova, Division I-AA. The guys complimented Zack and me on our spectacular seasons.
I spoke with Pete longer. We were classmates as well as teammates. Pete and his wife Natalie were living in Georgia. Pete had recently completed Ranger training with the army. Natalie and little Petey, their fourteen month old son, came home for Thanksgiving when Pete got two weeks of leave. Pete said he liked the army and that fatherhood and married life suited him. I suggested he and Natalie should stop by to visit us before they headed home tonight. I knew Penny, Kathy and Tammy would enjoy seeing Pete, Natalie and the baby.
Coach Caffrey called everyone together when they came in from warm-ups. He introduced each of us team alumni with our name, position and the seasons we played varsity. Coach introduced Zack next to last as a Heisman Trophy candidate, Nittany Lions starting quarterback and three year Wolverine varsity member and former team captain.
Finally it was my turn. Coach Caffrey gave me a nice introduction, noting that I set the new Penn State season reception record two weeks ago. I was a little surprised that Coach Caffrey knew that. I hadn't told him.
"Thanks for the introduction, Coach," I said before turning to face the team. I held up a #87 Wolverines jersey for them to see. "It wasn't long ago that I wore one of these."
Dave Mitchell was kind enough to loan me his game jersey before I started the talk. He was also courteous enough to have asked for my permission last summer to use my old number.
"It seems like a few months ago," I continued. "You have an opportunity tonight for something special. Many of you have already earned a state championship." I gestured towards Andy. "One of you has two championships. One thing all championship teams have in common is the friendships you make – they last a lifetime."
I gestured towards Zack, Stan, Jerry, Karl, Pete, Jason and Kenny. "I haven't played Wolverine football with some of these guys in five or six years, but still I'd rather have them with me if my back is against the wall. The friendships and the team spirit we feel never dies."
I proceeded to "borrow" most of Chase Utley's speech on teamwork as I described how essential this was to being successful on the field. My talk seemed to be well received by the team. Coach Caffrey gave the kids on the team a couple minutes to mingle and talk with us.
Matt Sauder, Cody Stevens and Dave Mitchell collared me first. All were excited to tell me about their experiences this season and how much Ed Fritz and I had helped them this summer. I congratulated them all. Each of my young friends had an outstanding season, especially when you consider that they were sophomores playing varsity for the first time.
I spoke to Tex Johanson briefly. I teased him that it was time for him to commit to Penn State next season. Tex and Andy, the two team captains, had agreed that college recruiting would go on hold until the Wolverines were done with the playoffs. Coach Burton, Penn State and I would have to wait awhile longer before Tex or Andy made up their minds.
We guests took off for our seats in the stands when the team gathered for the prayer before taking the field. Hal and I rejoined Tammy, Kathy, Penny and Brandon in the stands. We settled in to enjoy the game.
The East Pennsboro Panthers were one of the top teams in our district that year. They had a strong running game and a good quarterback too. The Panthers won the coin toss and elected to receive the football.
The Panthers deserved their high rating in the playoff seeding. The Wolverine defense tried hard but couldn't stop the Panthers. They pushed down the field and scored a touchdown on their first drive. The Wolverines responded with a good drive of their own, unfortunately capped off with Matt Sauder throwing an interception into the end zone. The Panthers drove down the field again against increasing resistance as Coach Wyndham and the Wolverine defense adjusted to the Panthers' style of play. Our guys stopped them in the red zone, forcing them to kick a field goal.
Coach Caffrey didn't change his approach offensively. Our team moved the ball down the field with some nice running by Adam Eberly, our big fullback and Cody Stevens, our tailback, mixed with some passing to Andy and Jonathan Landis. The drive bogged down in the red zone when Matt threw consecutive incomplete passes. On third and ten Matt sailed a pass into the corner of the end zone for Andy. Unfortunately it was slightly off target. Andy deftly batted the ball away from the Panthers DB. Our team kicked a field goal to get on the scoreboard.
Both offenses overmatched the opposing defenses. The first half went back and forth each team scoring three more times. The Panthers took a 27-20 lead into the locker room.
Hal, Brandon and I headed for the snack stand to get coffee, hot chocolate and nachos for our group. Hal and I talked about his experience playing last Saturday while we waited in line. Hal enjoyed finally performing for the 50,000 person crowd in Rutgers Stadium.
"Did I tell you?" Hal asked. "I've resigned from the soccer team."
"Did you?" I answered. "I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?"
"I'm just facing facts," Hal explained. "I don't measure up to the other guys on the soccer team. They are better with game strategy. They're better at ball handling. I just don't have any chance to catch up to them and still do my job for the football team."
" ... and the job with the football team got you the scholarship," I added.
"Exactly," Hal agreed. "I guess I really am a football player now."
"It's probably best if you concentrate on football if you're going to be the first string kicker next season," I said.
"You're right," Hal agreed. "I assume I will get the job next season. We have recruited another kicker next season, but I expect that I should be able beat him for the starting job."
"Good luck with that, Hal," I said. "You'll find it's quite trip being a starter."
"I guess so," Hal agreed. "That's what Jeremy has told me. Ed's not quite so sure about starting being so much fun."
"Ed had a rough initiation this fall," I replied. "He improved with every start and he'll do better next season."
Hal, Brandon and I carried our snacks back to the girls and distributed them. Kathy invited everyone to come over to her house tomorrow afternoon for the Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal game at 3:30. We agreed each of us would bring some snacks to munch on during the game. We would order pizza for dinner during the game.
Kathy gave all of us strict orders – we had to root for the Fighting Irish or we wouldn't be allowed to stay. I certainly had no problems with that. A Notre Dame victory would move Penn State up to second in the BCS standings and put us in the national championship game.
Andy made an excellent kick return for the Wolverines to start the second half, turning the ball over to the offense on the Panther's 45 yard line. A couple Cody Stevens runs set up the Wolverines with a third down and two yards to go play. Coach Caffrey called a play action pass. Matt Sauder launched the ball twenty-five yards downfield to Andy, who scooped the ball in, spun out of a tackle and sprinted into the end zone.
The Panthers responded with another good drive, taking the lead again 34-27. The Wolverines responded with another seven play drive that got a field goal.
I was proud of the way my high school team fought back all evening. They fell behind early and never gave up. They kept their poise and continued working Coach Caffrey's game plan. East Pennsboro impressed me. They weren't a traditional District 3 power but they had a good team this year.
Matt Sauder was doing pretty well, excepting the one interception. Andy was doing his share to win the game. Our other superstar, Tex Johanson, hadn't been a big factor yet. The Panthers were throwing away from him. Hopefully the coaches could find a way to get him involved.
The two teams traded touchdowns as the third quarter continued. The Panthers maintained their lead 41-37. Things finally broke our way after we kicked the ball back to East Pennsboro. Tex Johanson backed off the line of scrimmage to cover deep on the first play. The Panthers tried a quick out pass to the wide receiver on Tex's side. Tex had anticipated and timed the pass. He neatly cut in front of the receiver, stole the ball and sprinted untouched into the end zone. The successful PAT gave the Wolverines their first lead of the game, 44-41.
Coach Caffrey surprised me when our defense lined up after the kickoff. Tex Johanson lined up deep as a second free safety instead of his usual cornerback spot. #19, who I later learned was Jason Stauffer, took Tex's cornerback spot. I understood when the first play was run.
Patrick Jones, the other free safety, came flying up immediately to help stop the run for only a one yard gain. The coaches were disguising the eight-in-the-box run defense. On the next play I found out the other aspect of this personnel group.
The Panthers tried to take advantage of Jason's Stauffer's inexperience on the next play. Jason rotated deep while Tex sprinted back to the line of scrimmage as the play started. The Panther's QB fired the ball to his primary receiver. Tex cut in front the receiver and snagged the pass. Tex gained a few yards before he was tackled.
I saw Coach Caffrey huddled with the offense on the side of the field. I knew the speech the boys were getting now. It was time to take control of the game. He challenged the guys to stuff the ball down the Panthers' throats.
That is exactly how things unfolded. Adam Eberly and Cody Stevens took turns carrying the ball as the Wolverine offensive line pushed the Panthers defense down the field. My favorites used thirteen plays and six and half minutes to push down the field. Adam Eberly punched the ball into the end zone to increase the Wolverines' lead to 51-41.
Coach Caffrey sent in the nickel package now that we had a ten point lead with a little more than eight minutes to go. Tex Johanson lined up deep as a safety. Coach Wyndham started blitzing. The combination of extra DBs and more pressure solved the Panthers' offense. Six plays later they punted the ball back to us.
Adam Eberly and Cody Stevens took it from there. They took turns pounding the ball ahead behind our offensive line. The Wolverines kept the ball until time ran out in the game. The Wolverines fans in the stands stood and cheered at the clock ticked off the final seconds.
My friends and I headed down to the field to congratulate our team. I met up with Zack and Leigh Ann down on the field. I found and congratulated all the guys who scored: Andy, Cody, Tex, Dave Mitchell, and Adam Eberly. Andy and Cody had two touchdowns each while the other guys scored one touchdown.