The Gargoyles of Grant U

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story I wrote last summer when I was in high anticipation for football to start. I think it came mainly from watching various sports movies at the time.

Submitted: March 18, 2012

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Submitted: March 18, 2012

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It was a cold, dreary winter's morning. The snow from the night before lay on the field, looking predominately undisturbed. The air was clear, aside from the occasional fluttering snowflake. I couldn't believe that later that day would be the last game that I ever played for Grant University.


It was so difficult to comprehend that it had already been four years since I first stepped foot on campus as a freshman, with just enough money to get through my first semester. Funny how time changes things; I was a poor freshman, who took a chance and walked on to the practice field for the team, and only two months later, I was informed that I was granted a full scholarship.


You see, I played very sparingly in high school, due to the fact that my family was always traveling. My dad was in the military, I never really got to settle in, until my senior year, when I was able to play 5 games for Western Smithton High. But, it didn't amount to much, as we were a small school, in a small town, that most folks have never heard of.


However, this did not deter me from deciding that I wanted to try out for the Grant Gargoyles. The coach had me throw a couple of passes, and try to run some plays, and apparently liked what he saw. I got a call about a week later saying that he was submitting papers to get me a full scholarship to play for his team.


That was four years before, and now it was time for me to play my final game. Those four years had not been good to us, as we had lost every game leading up to this day. We were subject of many jokes, and at the same time, many intriguing columns on our struggles. We were the laughingstock of our small town, and all of the surrounding towns as well.


Rumors were floating that Coach Gibbs was going to be fired, and that the football program would be disbanded the following year. Everyone had given up on us, including the school which we played for. But, we were not yet ready to quit. We still had one game to play. One game to stand and fight.


We were set to play our conference's top team, the Lee University Generals. The Generals hadn't lost a game in over two years, and had beaten us the previous year by thirty points. Beating us would qualify them for the top seed in the upcoming playoffs, something the school had never done before.


As I sat there, all of these things were continuously running through my mind. I kept wondering, "what if I wasn't quarterback, would it matter?" After about an hour of sitting there, I made a decision. Nothing was going to keep me down. This was my final game wearing the GU uniform, and I was not going to disappoint everyone there. I started saying to myself, "tonight is going to be a night to remember." I had no idea how right I was going to be.


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It was six o'clock, only an hour before game time. My teammates and I sat in the locker room with our minds on the task at hand. It was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Shortly after, Coach Gibbs came strolling in, looking rather determined.


"Gentlemen", he said, "tonight is the night that we shut the critics' mouths. Tonight is the night that the Grant Gargoyles shock everyone by doing what none of them think we can do. Tonight is the night, that we go out there, and we win!"


The locker room felt as if it shook as everyone inside of it let out a collective roar and we made our way to the field. There were very few cheers, as people had become bored with our play. The majority of those wearing our colors were our parents, and a handful of close friends of us players.


From the opening kickoff, the Generals came at us, and they came at us hard. By the end of the first quarter, we were losing by seventeen points. We went to the sideline between quarters, as dejected as we could possibly be. The coach, calm as he could be, went over some ideas of what to try in the second quarter, and sent us back out.

The majority of the second quarter played out just like the first. Their defense played stingy as ever, and it seemed as if their offense couldn't miss. Our offense was frustrated, and our defense was completely clueless.


With two minutes and thirteen seconds to go in the half, our offense had the opportunity for one last drive in the half. We took over, down twenty six points, at our own thirteen yard line. On first down, my pass was batted down. Then, on second down, I was sacked, and we were taken back to the seven yard line. We quickly assembled into the huddle and I looked at our wide receiver Freddy Jones.


"Freddy," I said, "just run as fast as you can, and I'll throw it as hard as I can." We took to the line, with about a minute to go. I dropped back and Freddy took off. I rolled to the right to get some more time, and finally put everything I had into my throw. Somehow, Freddy was able to leap and come down with the catch, even getting in a few more steps before being brought down.


We took over at the Generals' twenty two yard line, and decided to attempt the same exact play. I took the snap, dropped back four steps, and threw for the end zone. As I was throwing, I got hit, and taken to the grass. All I could hear was the roar of the small crowd that was there to support us. Freddy had caught the pass, and scored.


I met Freddy at the sideline to congratulate him. Then, we turned our heads toward the locker room entrance, and headed for it. As we made our way, Freddy and I decided that it was time for us to stand up and say a few words to our team. We decided that it was our time to take over the game.


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As we arrived in the locker room, things seemed a little more upbeat than normal. However, there was still the vibe throughout the room that we stood no chance. The coach arrived, and simply said, "Gentlemen, we have thirty minutes. This game is not over, and that last play proved it. Is anybody here ready to go out there, and make something happen?!"


Freddy and I immediately both stood up. "We're ready, coach," we said simultaneously. "Come on guys, this whole season, we've been trying to win for the school, for our families, for our friends. We've been doing this for everyone. Everyone but ourselves. Maybe it's time that we stop doing it for everyone else, and do it for us. Let's go out there and play together. Let's go out there and finish this thing together! If they're going to remove the football program, then damnit, let's send it off with a win! Who's with me?!"


Suddenly, it seemed as if everyone on the team was possessed by some sort of force. Everyone jumped to their feet and started chanting, "WIN WIN WIN!" Everyone started jumping up and down, slapping hands, and slapping each other's shoulder pads.


We came out from the half so energized. We were laughing, smiling, and as hyper as we had ever been on the football field. We were ready to make something happen.


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We had the ball to start the half, and we wasted no time showing the Generals that we meant business. It took us only five plays, and ended with a seven yard touchdown run by our running back, Jack Dawson.


The Generals then took over at their own twenty seven yard line, and immediately completed a thirty two yard pass out to the forty nine yard line. Then, our defense decided it was time to change it up. On first down, Linebacker Jason Smitts ran over their quarterback as he threw the ball, and forced an incompletion. On the next play, Smitts came from the other side, and this time, took him down for the sack.


This gave the Generals a third down and seventeen from their own forty two yard line. Our defense tightened up and forced another incompletion. We proceeded to march out on offense, and make it happen again, scoring on a twenty one yard pass from me to Freddy. We had pulled to within five points, and were headed into the fourth quarter.


For the majority of the fourth quarter, we were locked in a defensive battle. We received the ball with just over three minutes to go in the game. However, we were pinned back at our own three yard line. I took the ball and handed it to Jack, who attempted to cut to the right, before being taken down in the end zone, giving the Generals a safety, and a seven point lead.


Fortunately, our defense was able to persevere and held them to only one yard on three plays. The Generals were forced to punt the ball. Following the punt, we were ready to take over, at our own thirty one yard line, with one minute and seven seconds left, and no timeouts.


On first down, I was able to complete a quick screen pass to Jack, who took it to the forty six yard line before stepping out of bounds. On the next play, I was able to catch Antonio Ward, our second wide receiver, who was cutting across the middle. Antonio was able to break free and get all the way to the Generals nineteen yard line. We rushed to the line, and I spiked the ball, with only seven seconds remaining in the game.


We knew that we may only have time for one play, and Freddy and I decided it was time to try something we hadn't tried before. I snapped the ball, and Freddy came running toward me. I tossed the ball to him and started to run toward the end zone. Freddy then threw the ball toward the spot in the end zone where I had planned to run. I was able to get just enough space and come under the ball at the perfect time. We had scored a touchdown, with no time remaining on the clock.


It seemed as if our entire team came running into the end zone to pile on me. After celebrating, I called our final timeout and ran to the sideline to speak with Coach Gibbs on what we wanted to do. It took me almost no pleading to convince him of what we wanted to do. "Coach," I said, "forget the tie, let's win this thing!" He shook his head with a confident smile.


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Following my discussion with Coach Gibbs, I made me way to the huddle. "Guys, it's been a pleasure playing with all of you. Now, let's finish this thing," I said. I then explained to them the plan, and we made our way to the line. The snowfall had begun and seemed to increase by the second. The wind had picked up a bit, and it seemed to me as if everything, aside from the on field noise, had gone deathly silent.


I snapped the ball and dropped back. I went through my progressions and was unable to find an open man. I then proceeded to roll to my left in order to buy some more time. As I went to the left, I saw a small gap. I decided that it was now or never, and started to make my run for it. Everything around me seemed to slow down. Every step I took seemed to last an eternity.


As I got to the two yard line, I saw one of the Generals' linebackers diving at me. I put my head down, and dove head first toward the end zone. I felt the bodies of opponents and teammates begin to pile on top of me. Everything seemed silent, and it seemed as if I laid there on that grass for days. But, as the weight began to come off, I began to hear my teammates cheer. I looked to the ground, and saw that the goal line was by my waist, and I had crossed into the end zone.


As the crown began to notice, it sounded as if we were playing in front of a packed house. People began to scream, some even began to cry. I lept to my feet and was smothered by my teammates. There was much excitement, so much that I couldn't even begin to describe it. We had won our first game in over four years. As for every one of us wearing a Gargoyle uniform that night, we had won our first game of our collegiate career.


That night seemed like a giant party. Faculty, students, parents, and general people from the surrounding areas of the school came out. It was as if we had won a championship. To us players, it was the closest that we would ever be. I wished that that night would never end. But, as with all things, it ended all too quickly.


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For the rest of the year, all of the players wore our Grant U Football gear. Every day was a chance for us to show our support, and hopefully convince the board to keep the football program around. We started a petition, and even a website trying to gain support. As the year progressed, we thought that we had even made some headway, getting a signature from the school athletic director.


However, during our last week of school, we were given the news. Coach Gibbs had been let go, and the football program was officially ended. Coach Gibbs called all of us, and met with us on the field to say his goodbyes, and wish all of us the best of luck in everything that we would do in our future.


A week later, I was packing my stuff up, and preparing to head home. I was going to go back home, and leave everything, and everyone, that I considered close to me for the past four years. As I was packing, I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It was Freddy, and he too was preparing to head home for the last time.


We laughed and talked, exchanging numbers and other various contact information. We hugged and said our goodbyes, and headed our separate ways. Freddy and I tried to keep in contact after then, but it became too hard, as we lived on opposite sides of the country, and had very demanding jobs. We each had ambitions, which seemed to have taken over our lives and ended any sort of chance that we had to stay in contact. Within a year, Freddy and I had completely lost contact.


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So, here I sit, writing this memoir of times past. Writing about how much fun we had and how great the feeling was to get that first win. Discussing the great friendships that we had, and all of the trials that came along with them. It was one heck of a time.


Last week, we had our 30th class reunion. The entire team had shown up, even Freddy. We all spent the night talking and laughing about the good time that we had as a team. That night really brought home the importance of being on a team, and the camaraderie that comes with it. It really made me think of how disappointing it has to be for those Grant alumni who no longer have a team to cheer for.

Now...they do. I became president of Grant University about three years ago and, after much debate, have finally convinced the board that it is time to bring back the football team. The Grant Gargoyles will return to the field beginning next year. It has also been agreed that for our home opener, we will recognize and celebrate that team that went out with a bang, and ended up being the reason that the team came back. Here's to turning that one win so many years ago, into a two game winning streak!


© Copyright 2020 Raymond J. All rights reserved.

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