by Deanna Curit
It was a crisp fall day, perfect for a football game. Jason Cortez and his team stood on the sidelines with their helmet in their left hand and their right hand over their heart. The national anthem boomed from the speakers. It was the state championship game. Jason had been preparing all year with his team for this game. Finally, the day had come. He was so ready for this. His goal all season was to score a touchdown at the state championship game. His team was undefeated, and they were determined to stay that way.
The national anthem ended and they geared back up as if they were getting ready for a war.
“Cortez, you’re starting as a running back. Are you ready?” Coach David yelled to Jason. Jason was as ready as he would ever be. The starting lineup ran out on the field and got in position for their first play. Eddie, the snapper, bent down and gripped the laces on the ball. In a flash, the ball was in the quick hands of Alex, the quarterback. Jason faked grabbing it, then turned right then left again and actually grabbed it this time from Alex. He ran and dodged the defensive players far enough to get a first down, when he was tackled by 3 players. Jason ran into the huddle again to learn the next play. The whistle blew and Jason got back in position.
This play, they were at the 26-yard line, and they were going for a touchdown. Alex was throwing the ball to Jason. This was his shot for the touchdown he had been hoping for all season. Eddie snapped the ball to Alex again and Jason started running. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a big guy running at him. The guy turned to catch the ball when Alex threw it. Jason’s arms went in the air and the ball came directly to them as if it were perfectly placed there. Then, he brought the ball to his chest and eyed for the end zone. Suddenly, he was tackled to the ground just shy of the 5-yard line. His leg was bent to one side and his body was going in another direction.
“MY LEG!” Jason screamed in agony. The guy who had tackled him was on top of Jason’s leg, crushing it. He got up, and Jason lay there pleading for help. The athletic trainer ran over to examine Jason. He tried to move his leg, but he just couldn’t. The pain was excruciating. He couldn’t even look at it. A few moments later his coach came on the field.
There were so many things running through Jason’s mind. “Is it broken? I can’t be out. I have to play. I’ve been waiting for this game all year,” he thought to himself. His heart was racing. He became so distracted by the fact that he may not get to play that he didn’t even feel the pain in his leg anymore; it was the least of his worries.
The athletic trainer brought a golf cart over and lifted Jason onto it. He was going to need to go to the hospital and they would not let him finish the game. Jason was crushed. Tears began to pour out of his eyes when he heard his coach say, “Sorry, kid, you’re out for the game.” His dream of scoring a touchdown at the state game was crushed. His heart was shattered into a million pieces. He felt like a failure. Jason refused to go to the hospital and instead, he got out of the golf cart and sat on the bench with a look of anger on his face. He hated this bench. He spent all of last year sitting on it, watching the games and never got a chance to play. But the last few games he had started to prove himself and he finally got playing time and this happened. He felt so alone and so sad, yet he knew he had to stay and watch his team.
“There’s always next year,” John Seavey said, as he sat next to Jason on the bench. Jason had nothing to say back. John just didn’t understand.
Jason watched the rest of the game from the sidelines. His team scored 7 touchdowns and the opposing team only scored 3. With only 2:15 left in the game and the score being 49-21, he knew they were going to win, but it just didn’t feel like a win to him. It felt wrong sitting there, not helping his team, after working so hard. He was defeated and certainly did not feel like a state champion. Now, Jason had to wait another year for his chance to score a touchdown at the state championship.