It’s been too many years since I’ve had someone to cheer for at a high school football game. The last time was in ’96 when Big Al’s boy, Clint, was playing.
The Conroe Tigers had a great football team in ’96, made even greater by wide receiver Clint Hayter. Don’t get me wrong, Andy Patrick, Rock Cartwright and a dozen or two others, helped out, but I was there to watch Number 85. Do I sound like a proud uncle?
Well, here it is 16 years later, and another nephew has come of age and developed talent enough to play football for the Montgomery Bears. Ryan is Virginia’s grandson, therefore not technically my nephew, but I claim him. Did I mention he plays football?
Ryan is a junior at Montgomery High and plays for the JV team. They play on Thursday nights. Next year he’ll be on the varsity and I’ll get to do the whole Friday night thing. Maybe even become one of those tailgaters. I’ll need to rent a truck. Or at least a tailgate.
When I played on JV team at Pasadena High, I was an okay player, but not as good as Ryan. He keeps reminding of that. Have you noticed how so few youngsters today lack confidence? Humility has all but skipped a generation.
At least Ryan has something to brag about. In his last game against Willis, he ran for 186 yards. They put a six at the end of the yardage so it would sound like someone was actually keeping tabs. I’m not even sure he was the leading ground gainer. The Bears pretty well trounced the Wildcats.
I don’t know if I mentioned it, but Freeman played football for Willis back in the day. Back in the day when there were 17 in the graduating class. Because of the Willis connection, Virginia invited a few Willis friends and family to the game. Only stipulation being that they agree to cheer for number 28 of Montgomery.
Ryan had about 20 of us in the stands cheering him on. I was the loudest, which is weird, ‘cause I was sick as a dog. Had a cough that would not stop. Still do. But, for some reason, my throat ailment amplified my yelling and whistling capability. I can only assume that my vocal cords had developed calluses from all the coughing.
I got so wound up in the game that I didn’t notice how irritating I had become to those around me. Kay kept putting her fingers in her ears, but it never registered with me as to why. I think it was ‘cause of all the medication I was taking. Allergy pills really mess my brain up.
Kay finally told me to tone it down or she was moving. During the second half, I barely cheered at all. I did cough a lot, though. I’ll be over the cough in a month or two.
The game ended at about 9 p.m., at which point we all headed to IHOP. It’s a tradition. I don’t like to eat past 6:00, but I make exceptions for traditions. There’s some bad juju associated with being the one to break a tradition. According to Virginia.
Let me tell you, IHOP came alive as soon as we walked in. It didn’t hurt that we were the only customers at the time. The waitress, Rose, was ready and waiting for news of the game. I don’t know if she likes football, but she becomes a big Bears’ fan the minute she sees the Plilers.
Oh, speaking of Pliler, it took the announcer at the stadium a couple of games before he got Ryan’s last name right. He was calling him Piller, Piffler, Fifer and all sorts of nonsense. I told Freeman that if he would spell his name with a “Y” (Plyler) fewer people would mispronounce it.
Freeman didn’t take me seriously, but Virginia got so mad at me that I had to assume the fetal position. Over the years, that pose has become a real lifesaver.
By the way, when I played varsity at Pasadena High, I had little trouble with announcers mispronouncing my name. As a rule, you have to be on the field before they’ll even call your name. I didn’t get to play all that much my senior year. Not enough talent, but I had loads of humility. Reeked of humility.
You can reach Mark at email@example.com