The game against Kirkland would be the last of the regular season. The Jags played six regular season games this year. The top four teams of the league would make the playoffs and going into this final game, the Jags occupied the second seed. Winning this game against Kirkland would ensure them going into the playoffs with that number two spot. So, it would be an important game to win. It was a similar postcard fall day to the one experienced last week. The sun splashing through the tree line streets, on my drive to North Creek High. After arriving it felt warmer than the previous Saturday afternoon. The chilly wind was absent from the atmosphere. It was shaping up to be a good evening for football, as we would begin at 4:30. Which meant the falling sun would again cast growing shadows across the field as the Jags played. After walking in from the parking lot this week, there was another visit with my buddy before the contest. I was lucky enough to catch up with him on a couple more things to look for while watching. Our chat broke just before game time, I again made my way around the bleachers to stand and watch.
Something interesting came up during the conversation with my buddy. Before the game, we talked about a friendship between two of the Jag players and one of the Kirkland players. The three had gone to kindergarten together before going to different elementary schools. Earlier in the spring, the son of my buddy had played flag football. He had played on the same flag football team with his friend from kindergarten. Now, they were going to play on opposing teams. Their friend would be the running back for Kirkland. Being given the opportunity to watch him play flag football with my buddy’s son early this spring, it was something to look forward to. Their buddy played running back during the flag football season. He was undersized, but extremely quick and shifty. He found the creases quickly during flag football and exploded through them. It was difficult to catch him in the open field, with the speed to run away from the defensive player. As we glanced at the Kirkland team warming up, my buddy pointed out that he was wearing number five.
Our conversation moved from discussing their friendship to the Jaguars. It was good to have a chat with my buddy before the game last week. Out of that pre-game talk came more specific things for me to be watching. So, with how informative it was, I asked about the week of practice for the Jags. There hadn’t been too much going on with this week of practice. One of the items my buddy did point out was some more work being done on passing. After we chatted for a bit, it was time for him to make his way back onto the field. Similar to the previous week, we parted ways, as I made my way to a viewing spot. Last week had seemed productive watching the game from the far side of the bleachers. Making my way through the parents and friends visiting before the game held little challenge. The far side of the bleachers was similar to last week, as nobody else was standing around that side.
The players got together for their meeting at mid field. The officials go over key points of interest and the athletic trainer goes over their role during the contest. One of the great things about the league has been having an athletic trainer present. Someone has been on the sideline during each game in case of injury. They respond quickly with medical attention when any player experiences pain. When the meeting concluded, each team returned to their respective sidelines for play to begin. The game began under ideal weather conditions, with sunny warmth, and little wind. Jackets were still helping fans stay warm, but the chilly wind wasn’t present this week. Kirkland began with the ball from their own forty-yard line and the first thing to catch my attention was the Jaguar tackling. The plan on tackling from last week seemed to be continuing. On one of the first plays, from my vantage point, you could see a Jag step up into one of the running lanes, making a fundamental form tackle by wrapping around the waist, bringing down the ball carrier. It was cool to see from along the fence and off we went into the contest.
That first drive from Kirkland felt like a shock to the system. They had come to play with some intensity on that afternoon. Not many teams had been able to move the ball against the Jaguars. However, Kirkland was able to on their first attempt with the football. The one lengthy play, which began as a shot pass, and turned into a substantial gain of yardage. The pass was completed to their running back, the buddy of our two players, he took the ball, speeding down the sideline. The play happened just in front of me, and I didn’t think the Jags would catch him. But, they did, as the Jags ran him down. The drive was stopped by the Jaguar defense at around the 14-yardline. The Jags followed with a fumble that Kirkland recovered, then Kirkland fumbled and the Jags recovered. The first half concluded with a long running play by the Jaguars, resulting in a touchdown. That sent the game into halftime with the Jags owning an 8-0 lead.
During the second half, the Jags seemed to hit their stride. They came out and got the ball to begin the second half. On that first drive, they put together a drive, resulting in a touchdown. However, much of the second half was still a battle. Both teams seemed to be playing good football. They went back and forth, each team moving it a little, but ending up turning the ball back over to the other team. At one point, Kirkland decided to punt the ball. Which, has been a rare play in our league. They got the punt away, it flew for a short distance, and rolled out for a few extra yards. The second half also found the Jag quarterback completing a pass, showing good results from the week of practices. As time ticked away, the Jags scored another touchdown and the game was won by the Jaguars 24-0. But, the score doesn’t seem to tell the whole story of the contest. For me, it felt much closer than the scoreboard indicated. The Jags appeared more tested in this game, having to fight for yards, and concentrate on defense. They did both of those things well, earning themselves an important victory. Now, they move into the playoffs, in that second-place spot, after being put through a bit of a test.
The Jags regular season ended with a picturesque evening. This game had many elements to make it exciting. It was challenging from the beginning, as Kirkland came out with a strong drive. Knocking the Jags a bit off balance, the game turned into a competitive struggle. The sun splashed fall day provided an amazing back drop. While, the sun slowly faded behind the buildings of North Creek High. When the clock hit zero to end our late afternoon game, the lights had taken hold of the football contest. The teams shook hands under the light and three buddies from kindergarten had their pictures taken. The regular season had come to an end, with five wins and one loss. Now it would be time to focus on the playoffs beginning this week. The Jags will occupy the number two spot in the playoffs. Playing for the opportunity to play for a championship the following week.