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Monday, September 29, 2014

The "Pride is Forever - Friday Night Football" Story

The band enters the field for the Star Spangled Banner.
It was an ordinary day.  Congrat- ulating my son-in-law, Dave, after watching his Urbana Hawks win a great high school football game against the Oakdale Bears.  The outcome of the game wasn't known until the kicker for Oakdale missed a 37 yard field goal wide to the right with 20.6 seconds left on the clock. 
The cheerleaders hold the banner as the team enters.
After the miss, a roar from the packed home stands in Leagcy Field  broke out and the Hawk players began celebrating.  All that was left was draining the time off the clock which took two plays.  Friday night high school football is not only exciting, but a way of life for thousands of fans all over the country.  
A flag flys in the student cheering section.
The smell of the stadium food, the sound of the band, the moves of the cheer- leaders, the dancing of the pom squad, the bright colors of the new synthetic turf field, the echoing of the public address announcer's voice off the acres of forest behind the field and the intensity of the coaches and players can excite even the most tranquil fan in the stadium.  
Urbana quarterback passes for yardage.
Win or lose, there is always next week to look forward to and the excitement all over again.  Dave was the head coach for Quince Orchard High School in Montgomery County, MD for 10 years before leaving a great legacy behind and changing allegiance to Urbana High School in Ijamsville, MD.  
Urbana cheering section.
In his last and 10th year at QO he coached and won his 100th high school game part way through the season.  His Cougars reached the playoffs every year that he coached at QO and in 2007 Dave was named the Maryland Coach of the Year after leading his unbeaten team to the state title.  
A haze from a Bar-B-Que envelopes the other side of the field.
Dave made the move to be closer to home and to be able to coach where his two girls will attend high school.  His record this year, the first as head coach of the Hawks, is at 3-1 having lost the first game of the season, but gaining momentum in their next three games by using a quick-strike, no-huddle offense that caught the opposition by surprise.  
The Oakdale student section is aglow at halftime.
Tonight's game saw the Hawks kickoff to start the game and the Bears drove the ball down the field and scored before the crowd had settled into their seats.  A missed extra point would prove to be the difference in the game.  Then it was the Hawks turn and they didn't disappoint as they also drove down the field to score and go ahead with the successful PAT.  
Players celebrate after a Pannell to Atkins touchdown pass.
After going back and forth for the rest of the 1st period and and part of the second period, Urbana senior quarterback Donovan Pannell hit sophomore receiver Elijah Atkins with a 39-yard pass which was bobbled for a second before he pulled it in for the score.  Another PAT gave the Hawks the 14-6 lead at halftime.  
Granddaughter Courtney adds blue color to the eyelashes of
granddaughter Camille.  Blue is the team color.
But after halftime the Bears scored 14 unanswered points to take a 20-14 lead with 10 minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.  Tension could be felt throughout the home team's bleachers.  Then it was time for the Hawks to fly high once again.  Ray Gray, Dave's senior star running back who recently committed to Temple University, took charge and after four consecutive runs, starting from the Hawk's 38 yard line, had his team on Oakdale's 26 yard line.  
Urbana players and coaches celebrate after the Oakdale
kicker missed a game winning field goal.
Then a pass to Atkins was all that was needed to knot the score at 20.  The PAT was once more successful and with the final field goal miss gave the Hawks a hard fought win on home turf.  After the game, Carol and I joined our daughter Brynn and granddaughters Courtney and Camille as we walked on the field to congratulate Dave on the win.  
Teams line up to congratulate each other on a well played game.
Dave's dad, Joe, is one of his assistants and I got a chance to talk to him once again.  The thrill of winning a Friday night high school football game is unbelie- vable and I was glad I had the chance to experience it once again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Scoreboard after the final seconds elapsed tells the tale.
Coach Dave huddles with the team after the game.
The new turf field is fantastic!
Granddaughter Courtney celebrates with her Aunt Lauren after the game.
Camille had a chance to cheer the following day during a midget game.  She is the one flying through the air in the center of the photo.
An eleven year old girl wowed the crowd with her rendition of The National Anthem.
Granddaughter Courtney performs at the next game during halftime.  Courtney is the girl in the center.

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