It was a hot Monday morning in July, a horrible day for any sort
of athletic practice, however the football coaches thought it was
Andrew Knox grimaced as he stepped out of the
locker room. The air was sticky and he felt almost like he was
trapped in a vacuum, it was hard to breath. The click clack of
cleats on concrete signaled the exit of the rest of the team.
He was only a sophomore but he'd apparently made
quite the impression on the head coach last year. How was he
going to survive varsity? He had no idea.
"Dude…is coach trying to kill us?" Andrew asked,
a bead of sweat already forming on his brow.
"I wouldn't doubt it, that mofo is crazy," Mike
Manning replied, the offensive guard was already dripping
perspiration. If anybody that saw him would've though practice
was already over. "There's no way in hell that I'm gonna practice
in this." Mike waved his arm towards the field.
"Oh really Manning?" Coach Adam Ross appeared
behind him. " If you want, you can just run for the entire
practice, I really don't give a damn."
Mike looked down at his cleats, not saying a
"That goes for anybody else who thinks they're
not going to give me a hundred percent today. I don't care how
hot it is!" Coach Ross yelled. " If you're not going to give me
that, get the hell off of my field. You can be replaced"
Coach Ross looked at his players, the reigning state champions,
but that didn't mean jack this year.
"You think that just because you won last year,
gives you an excuse to slack off? You boys are in for a helluva
treat! Today is going to be the day that separates the men from
the boys so suit up and get ready to hit someone." He finished
and began to walk towards the field.
Andrew sighed and grabbed his helmet from the
ground. He looked at his ankles, the tape job was sloppily done
but he felt confident it would stick.
He was only a sophomore but he'd apparently made quite the
impression on the head coach last year. How was he going to
survive varsity? He had no idea.
Strapping up his helmet he jogged towards the
He could feel the heat emanating from the turf.
This is going to be a very long day.
The jitters weren't something Andrew felt often,
but right now he was about ready to hurl all over the field. The
varsity defense was huge. The defensive line alone averaged at
least 250 lbs across. He was sure he was going to get destroyed.
"Knox, c'mere!" shouted Coach Ross.
Andrew began to jog again and stopped in front of
his coach. The man was more then a little intimidating. Coach
Ross resembled an army general, complete with a camouflage hat
and a gray handlebar mustache, he also had the same mentality.
"Alright Knox, here's the deal. Last year was, in
my honest opinion, the best season we've ever seen a running back
have here," Ross started, "but this is a whole new level. With
the offense we run, you're going to be the key cog in this
system. The reason I'm pulling you aside is because you're
freshman coach told me you're scared of contact."
Andrew shifted his weight from foot to foot
Why are you surprised? I mean I doubt anyone likes getting
"The problem with that is, at this level you're
not the fastest kid anymore. You're jukes and spins and cuts
aren't going to save you all the time. When we need a yard, when
we need a foot, when we need an inch, I want to be confident that
you lower your shoulder and get them. Can you do that?"
"Yessir." Andrew nodded.
"Good." Ross slapped Andrew's helmet and waved
The first hour or so of practice was simply going
through plays, stretching, and position drills. Around 4:30, Ross
The team surrounded their coach and took a knee.
Coach Ross was smiling…that wasn't a good sign.
Ross was standing between two parallel ropes, each one was about
four feet long, a foot wide. They were spaced about three feet
"Two weeks ago, I was talking to a friend from
Chicago, he coaches there, he gave me an idea for a new drill.
Some of you may have heard of it, its called the Oklahoma drill."
His smile widened. "The concept is simple enough. On each side of
these ropes we are going to have an offense and defense. Offense
at the top of the ropes, defense at the bottom. Running backs are
going to line up behind and offensive lineman, and a defensive
lineman is going to get in his stance in front of the oline with
a linebacker behind him. Offense, your goal is to run into the
defense side, defense your job is to stop them. If you step
outside the ropes, you get three laps. Are there any questions?"
Nobody raised their hand.
Oh crap…this is not gonna be good.
"Okay first up…Knox."
Andrew got to his feet and looked at the ropes as
Coach picked the other three members of the exercise.
"Here" Ross tossed Knox a football.
He quickly tucked it into the nook in his elbow
and brought it into his body. His eyes looked up to see the two
defensive players his coach had picked. They were both seniors,
one was actually Adam King, the defensive captain and all
Crap, crap, crap! His mind screamed. Maybe
he could trip and pretend he sprained something, or maybe he
could pretend to pass out. The thoughts of how to get out of this
drill ran through his mind one by one but none of them seemed
applicable to the situation.
"When I blow the whistle, go." Ross said.
Knox took a deep breath and got into his stance.
The Whistle blew.
There was a loud CLACK as the linemen's
pads connected with each other. Andrew immediately began to run
forward, trying to cut around the linemen. The defensive tackle's
hand grabbed onto his jersey, Andrew drove one foot into the turf
and spun from the right rope to the left tearing the hand away
from the cloth. Andrew looked down and saw his left foot inches
from rope. He quickly regained his balance. Andrew smiled inside
his helmet, that wasn't too bad.
However, Andrew forgot about King, who was making
charging right for him. This was it, this was the moment. Knox
glanced at the ropes, he was a foot away, he could make it. For
the first time all practice, the fear of facing the varsity was
gone. The nausea he felt in his stomach dissipated, all he knew
was that he had to cross that line.
Lowering his shoulder Andrew plowed right into
the center of Adam King, who promptly wrapped his arms around him
and tried to push him back to where Andrew came from. Chopping
his feet rapidly Andrew pushed forward, looking for just a little
leverage, enough to juke or spin or something. Just like that
Andrew saw his chance, lifting his free hand he pressed it
against the side of King's helmet and shoved off. Knox ripped
free and sprinted across the line.
Breathing heavily Andrew removed his helmet and
dropped it to the ground along with the football, steam radiated
off his head. A hand clapped him on the shoulder.
"You're ready for the big games," it was Coach
Ross, "good work."
Andrew smiled and picked his helmet off the
"Knox, lets go again." Came the voice of Adam
King who looked pretty pissed off.
Andrew picked up the ball and grinned. "Bring