Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The season ends

We are so proud of our team! They only lost one game all year and played their hearts out all season, working hard and learning new skills and learning to be a team.  They qualified for the playoffs and had the blessing of playing on their home field. There were 5 games played that day and ours was the only Venice team to play at home. The other team drove around 3 hours to play us. They had a very small team (only 16 boys), but they were very talented. They scored on their second possession and we knew we were in big trouble. They dominated the first half, scoring 26 unanswered points. Our boys went into the locker room with heads down, discouraged to say the least. They had never been in this position all year. Here is our #46 getting in on a play. He only played a few offensive plays in the first half.
Then, in the second half, Riley got the chance to go in on defense. This is his true love. Playing defense and tackling. I was watching the game through my camera lens (obviously), and captured this just before he tacked this ball carrier.  He was involved in a play that I can't even remember the details of shortly after the 2nd half started that just lit the team on fire. I believe it was a turnover, but not really sure. But when he came off the field, his coaches and teammates were all slapping his shoulder and helmet and he was FIRED UP! His enthusiasm spread like wildfire and the team that played the 2nd half looked nothing like the one from the first. Riley played every defensive play after that so it was much more exciting for his family, and he managed to be a part of several big plays, once tackling a kid with one arm while being blocked by an offensive lineman (darn camera didn't snap when I wanted it to or I would have had photo evidence of that one).

 Here, he threw himself in front of the ball carrier (okay, I think he probably tripped) and ended up tripping him up as the others gang tackled him.
 Near the end of the game (we did manage to score once), Riley was in on a tackle and the carrier fumbled the ball, and Riley was given credit for the fumble recovery, and was injured on the play. We decided that the announcer must like Riley's name (even though he pronounces it wrong --"Pratcher" with a short a, rhyming with catcher) because if he's anywhere near the play, he gets credit for something over the loudspeaker! And we cheer really loud anyway! Anyway, he hasn't had any injuries this year, and there has only been a broken finger for the entire team all year (the kicker and he played with the broken finger making all but 2 extra point tries all year!), but when he didn't get up after the play my heart sank. He was in the fetal position for a while then flipped over to his back, but we couldn't tell what was wrong from the stands. He was down so long that the parents in the stands started panicking, asking whose kid that was and did we want to go down there to find out what was wrong. I sat on my hands and prayed. After about a very long minute he got up and walked off holding his left hand/wrist and sat on the bench. Someone got him some ice and he put it on his elbow. Turns out he took a helmet to his elbow, nothing serious, just very painful. He was in tears after the game from both the loss and the elbow. All the boys were very disappointed and several others were in tears. It was very sweet. So many of them were concerned about Riley and came to check on him when he was icing his elbow and after the game. So many lessons learned this year. How to lose gracefully was one of them. How to never give up and to go down fighting to the very last seconds. So much fun to watch. I am so proud of him and all his hard work.

So, now the countdown to football season begins...just 9 short months to go!