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A few words on the big game.

November 29, 2012 - Michael Palmer
All sports teams, high school, college and pro alike, have players whose accomplishments and talents are recognized as important to the success of the team. Every team also has players whose contributions are less visible but are just as important to the success of their team.

While there are 11 players on the field, each with their own assigned task essential to the success of each play, only one will cross the goal line with the football.

Each makes their own contribution and with the heart of a champion and that is the essence of a “Team”.

This week the cover of the playoff tab featured outstanding athletes on the St, Clairsville Red Devils football team, however last week the poster included a team photo along with the managers, band and cheerleaders.

Being on the sidelines with these young athletes and the coaches it was apparent that the past five weeks have been fun, but also nerve racking.

When a turn over in a tie-game sent the opposition into the red zone, the defense forced a passing situation and gave Dan Monteroso an opportunity to turn the game and the season around. It would seem destiny is on the side of the Red Devils but that is little comfort as the team runs through their final practice today.

I know I would check my uniform and pads at least 25 times to make sure I forgot nothing. I would also not sleep much tonight as anticipation pumped adrenaline through my body as I tried for some much needed Zs.

I know there is little chance this game will not be close, but perhaps a small chance exists that senior Haley Skukan will get to boot a PAT. It would be a nerve racking experience for her as she represents all of womankind in a male dominant sport, but if I was her father I would suggest she get in there and “Just kick the ball.”

In fact I would ask the coach to put her in for a fourth quarter kickoff and let her get some pad on pad with the opposition.

In addition to my wish list for the finals I want to see junior speedster Jaylon Brown break one for a long TD. He has earned it. In addition to a great season where his stats came from an average 2.5 quarters of playing time, he has been beaten up the past two week by fantastic run defenses. I thought the linebackers for Johnstown were brutal.

Part three of the wish list would be one of the D-I scouts huddled along the sidelines making an offer to Matt Kinnick. He quietly runs the offense and makes sound decisions in the pocket. That maturity on when to run, when to throw and when he gets a high snap he is smart enough to tuck it and take the loss, these are essential elements to the Red Devils success this season. He has good speed on the scrambles and is not too shabby at hooking up with receivers either.

Part four is that the line, which has been up against bigger opponents all season, gets a forced fumble deep and one of the “big uglies” (I say this with the upmost respect) gets a scoop and score when I am in the endzone to capture the moment for the Saturday paper.

Primarily I want a win for St. C, the OVAC, the Buckeye 8 and all of Belmont County and Ohio Valley football.

It is a privilege to be on the sidelines to share the experience and I have to admit, I would not trade my sideline pass for this Friday for a photo pass to the Super Bowl.

I heard a rumor that Buckeye coach Urban Meyer is going to be on the sidelines for game. I know that St. Clairsville's uniforms will be the perfect excuse for Ohio State's coach to root for the Red Devils. Some will say this all began last spring with conditioning and weight room sessions, I say this all began when a young boy picked up a football and tossed it to his father for the first time.

That said, I know there are many parents and relatives of players and coaches who will also find sleeping difficult and will be stressed out in the stands tomorrow.

So – everyone just try and get some sleep tonight. We will be taking the road to Canton tomorrow morning and bringing home the trophy tomorrow night.


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