The third game of this young season would tell us a lot. The Jaguars had gone through a rough first game of the year. They had followed up the tough defeat with a bounce back game, as they won game two. Now, the Jags went into another test on the road. This game could provide clues about the rest of their year. The drive to North Seattle took a bit longer than anticipated. It found me arriving at the field a bit behind for the second time. The high school was tucked into a North Seattle neighborhood. The day was cool with overcast skies, but there didn’t appear to be threats of rain. This game would be interesting for a couple of reasons. Our two head coaches would be away, which meant my buddy would be calling offensive plays. The same circumstance happened last year. However, it occurred during a game I had also missed. There was excitement to watch my friend take on the role. Attempting to enter the high school football stadium left me in surprise. Something that didn’t occur last year while coaching was paying admission. On this day, I was required to walk back to my car and fetch my wallet for a couple bucks. Forgetting the wallet in the car, not such a good habit…
Making my way to the car and back, admission was granted upon cash being presented. The Ingraham high school football stadium was pretty nice. Not a large facility, it sat just down a small hill behind the high school campus. There was a large bleacher grandstand on the right as you entered the football facility. Instead of sitting with the parents, for the third week in a row, standing felt more comfortable. It might sound slightly awkward for me to be standing through the contest, as cerebral palsy could cause discomfort. While that can be true to some extent, sitting could be more uncomfortable. Sporting contests can often cause nervous energy through my body, whether excitement, anxiety, or anticipation for the next play. It can help to have space for me to move around. Sometimes these situations can lead to pacing or fidgeting, things that seem to help work off the nervous energy. So, when entering the stadium, there was room along the fence to stand. Once situated, my glance up to the scoreboard took me by surprise. It was already halfway through the second quarter.
My glance at the scoreboard informed me that the Jaguars were already ahead by twenty points after just a quarter and a half had gone by. Watching the game for a few moments quickly indicated the reason. The opponent of our Jags on that day seemed simply overmatched. North Seattle appeared to be smaller in many places than our kids. Looking over to the North Seattle sideline also brought another thought to ponder. It looked as if they had something in common with our opponent the previous week. They seemed to have a low number of players standing on their sideline. That information combined with the numbers on the scoreboard, meant it could be a long afternoon for North Seattle. My buddy relayed the results of the first few plays later on during the week. Arriving late left me missing much of the exciting action. The Jaguar offense had scored quickly on their first two drives and the scoring continued from that point. It became challenging to slow our offense down, trying to keep the score from getting out of hand.
The game seemed to begin moving at a slower pace. Coming out of halftime, the plan appeared to include keeping the scoring down. After running the ball with good success in the first half, the play calling changed a bit. With the emphasis on running most of the time, there hasn’t always been many pass attempts inside the offense. One way to keep an offense from scoring too many points, can be calling plays that haven’t been run much during the year. It feels like our league as a whole doesn’t pass the football too often. The reason for run dominated offenses could have much to do with the age of kids playing. They seem to have an easier time lining up and running the ball. So, to go against the norm and work on plays not run often, the Jags went to the air. More pass plays were called in the second half, giving our quarterback a chance to improve his passing ability. However, with the lack of performing many of these plays during the year, the connections weren’t easily made. This was probably simply due to the lack of practicing, as plays practiced would probably focus on running. The plan seemed to be working, as the plays weren’t as explosive, in contrast to running the ball. One Jaguar got close to scoring toward the end of the game, but ended the play out of bounds. It gave us the chance to attempt a rare field goal, which was made by our quarterback/kicker, and the game came to an end.
Even within a successful game there can be situation of turmoil. It wasn’t until a conversation following the game that more information came my way. One of the interesting feelings of watching the team instead of helping coach has been feeling detached. Something is lost by not being around the team during practices. The North Seattle team had found a way to understand the offensive plays being called. So, our opponent on that day had an understanding of which direction each play would be moving. They could detect each signal being relayed in from the sideline. Luckily, it was picked up by the coaching staff and a solution was quickly devised. The Jaguars turned to using a language other than English to relay the offensive plays to the quarterback. It was an option experimented with last year, so wasn’t an entirely new concept. The change worked and their opponent wasn’t able to decode the offensive plays for the remainder of the contest. It was another situation that found me wanting to be helping on the side line.
The game was already pretty well decided when I arrived part way through the second quarter. So, standing along the fence to observe the game was a good option. It allowed me to move around freely, keeping my nerves away. Still, standing for any length of time can be challenging. Cerebral palsy can make long periods of walking and standing difficult in many circumstances. That only seems to be good reason to do it when the chance presence itself. We only get better at things by practicing, so spending long periods walking or standing, only makes me stronger. Which means the following time, in a situation that requires standing, might be slightly easier. Standing has been another positive about going to watch the Jaguars play this year. It’s just another form of watching the game from a changed perspective. Who knows if standing for each game will take place.
As the game against North Seattle came to a close, plays were called to slow the scoring. The situation also helped the Jags work on passing plays. But, toward the end of this game another new play was tried. A field goal kick was kicked and completed. My buddy was able to call the offensive plays, which he did well, and more questions were answered about the Jaguars. They played another complete game, showing the first game to be an outlier rather than a new normal for the Jags. The new football season has almost reached its half way point. Even after an opening weekend struggle, they find themselves in good position. Next week will be another test, as they play the only other team who has lost just once. It will be a contest for second place behind the talented Everett team. The Jaguars are in a different position from last year, when they completed the year without losing during the regular season. Still, they are in good position to continue another successful season. The fun of watching this team grow will proceed for the next few weeks.