Game number four on the Jaguar schedule would be their first with something at stake. West Seattle would make their way to North Creek. It was going to be the first home game of the year for the Jags. West Seattle came into the game only having lost one prior game. The Jags had also only been through one defeat. In both cases the teams had fallen victim to the Everett Wildcats. So, the afternoon would be a battle for the number two spot in the league. This game would place the winner in good position as the season wound to a close. Positioning for the playoffs was becoming increasingly important. Waking up to a spotty weather forecast, it would be the second game of the year where directions wouldn’t be necessary. We had played a few games at North Creek last year, including some playoff contests. Which meant the surroundings would be familiar. Things are often more comfortable when it’s a repeat trip. So, with the importance of this game, I didn’t want to miss the opening quarter. The trip took about half an hour, again with little anxiety, and more excitement. I walked from the parking lot to the field under partly sunny skies.
Walking toward the field, the Jags could be seen warming up for the game. The previous game was going through the final moments. There was a spot along the fence to watch the kids go through their final preparations. While watching, the Jags work some plays, my eyes were squinting from the breaks of sun, peeking through dispersed clouds. Looking around the sky had me reevaluating eye ware, leading me back to the car for sun glasses. When returning to the football facility, with the ability to see without squinting, the previous game had drawn to a conclusion. The parents were mingling around, waiting for their kids to walk off the football field. My buddy caught my eye and motioned me to sit in the stands with his family. Moving around the parents and siblings wasn’t much challenge. Sometimes large groups of people can be challenging to navigate. Cerebral palsy can make balancing difficult, so being in crowds can sometimes cause unsteady feeling. Though as strength comes, balance improves, making moving around easier. So, I found my way up onto the bleachers, sitting with my buddy’s family.
This would be my first game watching from the bleachers. An attempt was made to sit during the second game. But, it wasn’t long into the game that getting up and standing felt more comfortable. This time the plan would be to remain seated for the contest. We sat in the first row on a bleacher seat. The location made things easier, removing me from navigating steps, moving around people already seated, or climbing over bleachers. We had people behind us, but also some fans stood in front of us, standing along the railing. The fans standing would move back and forth along the walkway depending on where the play was happening on the field. There seemed to be a calm intensity among the people sitting in the bleachers. As the game progressed that intensity rose, with some competitive comments exchanged. However, the banter didn’t appear to boil over. For me, the tension could be felt throughout the contest. It didn’t reach places of discomfort, but it did indicate the purpose and intensity being played with on the field.
The first half showed a contrast in playing styles between West Seattle and North Creek. West Seattle had a star running back with big play ability. He would be the player who required containment during the contest. Which gave the Jaguar defense one main objective, to stop their running back. The other way to stop their talented running back, would be to simply keep him off the field. This tactic would require keeping the ball on offense longer, putting together longer sustained drives, when the Jags had the ball. During the first half, these two contrasting styles came to fruition. West Seattle scored quickly after recovering a fumble. It was an explosive run play from their lead rusher. However, the Jags took the ball after that explosive run and did what they do best. They methodically worked their way down the field for the second time in the opening half. The Jags shared the ball between their three running backs. Each one having a productive first half, as they marched down field, scoring a touchdown. Both extra points were kicked through the uprights by the quarterback/kicker. The game went into intermission with the Jags leading 16-6.
The second half was similar to the first half. West Seattle would begin the second half with the football. As the Jags began on defense, forcing West Seattle to turn the ball over to them after four plays. The Jaguars, as they had done in the first half, put together another balanced drive down the field. They began the second half like they played the first, with a balanced running attack, sharing the ball between their three running backs. When West Seattle was given back the football after a Jaguar touchdown, they showed similar characteristics to the first half. It took their running back one play to score. He broke free from his own forty-yard line and ran the ball in for a touchdown. They had an offense that could put points on the board quickly. But, the Jags were able to counteract that by possessing the football for extended periods on time during the contest. They ran the ball very affectively, which felt like a key to keeping control of the football. Our quarterback/kicker continued finishing off touchdown drives by making the extra points to follow. Soon, the game just got out of reach for West Seattle, even with their ability to score quickly. The Jags won the game 38-12.
Sitting in the bleachers gave me opportunity that didn’t present itself before. It has always been difficult to operate my phone while standing. However, when seated things can become more stable. While seated, my arms can rest on my legs, allowing them to balance, and letting me operate the phone in my hands. Being seated during this game allowed me to type notes into my phone. So, I was able to type small reminders of the action taking place on the field. This has been my second year writing about the Jaguars playing their games, but the first time not totally working from memory. It helped me focus better on the action. Again, allowing me to have a different experience than when coaching. The note taking also seemed to help my focus on the game, picking up on different things on the field. This game seemed to have a different kind of energy. The body language of all the Jags looked to have purpose and confidence, calmly believing they could win the contest.
This game seemed to build on the momentum of this season. It was another game of importance as the Jags wanted to remain in good position for the playoffs. That feeling of purpose could be sensed from the beginning of the contest. It showed up in the players’ body language and effort during plays. The atmosphere showed again how they have grown from their defeat of the first game. The games to follow where contests won by large margins, but the Jags knew this game would be more challenging. They held the West Seattle running back to just a couple break out plays. The Jags also possessed the football for long periods of time, keeping their running back from having opportunities. This game seemed to continue the trend of growing throughout the year. They have only gotten better and appear more comfortable with each game. It builds excitement as we wind down the regular season. With just two regular season games left to play, it will be exciting to watch them finish. Each game has me more excited than the last, waiting to find out how far this season will go.