Coming off the first game it was challenging to know how the second one would play out. Questions entered my mind from the prior week. The Jags had struggled in Everett, looking slightly discombobulated for most the game. Even through getting pretty well beaten up for most the game, their effort remained. Their efforts paid off in the end with a full field touchdown run. The question for this following week would be, would the momentum from the final run carry over. This week would be another road game at Eastside Catholic. The previous year, this game was played on the same field, resulting in a win for our Jaguars. It was an overcast Saturday with rain in the forecast. So, the rain coat was pulled out of my closet for the first time and off I went to the game. Another relaxing drive took me on the half hour drive to the campus of Eastside Catholic. Unlike the previous week, this week found me arriving to the game before it began. My view of the game would be different this week. Instead of watching from field level behind the gate, I would be watching from a walkway behind the top row of bleachers. It would be about fifteen rows above field level.
It was interesting to watch the kids play football from that vantage point. The thoughts of coaches watching games from a press box entered my mind. Spending last year watching from the side line and on the practice field was challenging at times. Having not spent much time around football, it was difficult to follow the game from that view. Most of my life has been spent watching the game from above the action. Whether on television or inside any stadium, we tend to look down onto the game. The view at Eastside had me watching from a more familiar angle. It allowed me to see the game more clearly, than from the side line. More of the playing surfaced seemed to be in view. As, the plays felt to be happening at a slower pace. When we get closer to the action of any sport, the game seems to speed itself up. With that, it was good to watch our offensive plays develop. It also gave me a better understand of things attempting to be accomplished by our offense. One good thought from last year might have been to find a way to watch from above, it may have helped with my understanding.
The Jaguars began the game against Eastside successfully. This game found me arriving on time, allowing me to watch from the first snap. We came out in the first quarter running the ball. The run heavy attack could have been based on how we finished the previous week. Even though we lost, the final play was a running play, going the entire length of the field. So, coming out of the gate that way made sense. The Jags have often had a run heavy offense as well. On this day against Eastside that running game looked like a machine. We were able to run successfully throughout the entire first half. The Jaguars switched from lead back to the left. Our running back felt interchangeable, as the quarterback could give the ball to anyone in the backfield. They continued to make positive yardage. By the time we hit halftime, the game had become lopsided. The Jags were also playing sturdy on the defensive side of the ball, not giving up much yardage, and no points. Going into intermission, the score was 21-0.
Coming out from the halftime period, something surprising took place. Before the third quarter had its chance to begin, the coaches were called together. Following an average length discussion between the two coaching staffs and officials, the game was called. The opposition of our Jaguars had decided to forfeit the game. From my prospective the reason seemed to be an absence of players. One noticeable difference between the teams during the first half, was the number of reserves along the sideline. Eastside didn’t have many players standing on the sideline during the game. It was something catching my eye during the first half. However, the decision to call our game halfway through came as a surprise. The situation left me wondering if this kind of thing happens very often. Within the following couple of weeks, a conversation led to an understanding, the situation was extremely rare. The injuries during the game and shortage of players caused the game to be called halfway through. Our Jaguars came away with a 21 to zero win. It was a positive bounce back from the struggles of game one.
The Jaguars looked like a different team in this second game. Through watching from above the field, things stuck out better. The improved ability of our quarterback was on display during the Eastside game. During their first game, things seemed frustrating, but you could tell he was keeping his composure. He had a different look about him from the year before, most notably in his body language. Those signs of leadership body language that struck me from the first game, also struck me in the second. However, in the second game, the positive body language carried into what appeared to be more positive decision making on the field. He had a couple good runs during the first half. Our quarterback also had a play which called for a pass. But, instead he recognized it might not work, tucked the ball away, and ran for positive yardage. The decision struck me when it took place, seeming like a good illustration of his growth as a player.
The season seemed to turn the corner with this performance. The Jaguars came out and showed the majority of their previous game wouldn’t be indicative of their season. For me, watching them play from above helped further understand football. It provided more understanding of the intricacies of our offense. Also, painting a clearer picture of the things our offense seeks to accomplish. The game just might have been moving too fast while trying to coach. Cerebral palsy also seemed to play a part in learning the game while coaching. It was always an added challenge in the environment, as my disability has been in most environments. The added element of those differences played a role in coaching. Navigating those realities did seem to take away from more fully understanding the game. So, taking this year to simply watch has helped remove that element. If coaching again becomes part of my future, this year of watching would certainly help. It has been exciting to watch the team grow and understand the game from a new angle.