By Jacob Greene
The marching band began.
Cheers erupted as Simpson University football players were introduced for the first time. As each name was announced, the players waved to the crowd.
Smiles all around. Football is finally here.
As the marching band picked up the tempo, the public address announcer tried to reach the helicopter pilot.
Then the crowd heard the incoming chopper. The whirring of the blades became louder as it circled around–dropping in altitude.
“Dominique Ruff, will you please make your way to mid-field,” the PA announcer said.
A ball is dropped from the helicopter. Ruff caught it–the first reception outside of practice on campus.
The wind from the helicopter was as strong and exciting as the crowd present.
The Star-Spangled Banner is sung. The crowd erupted again. Unity is present–unwavering. Students, alumni, family, and friends come together for football.
A 7 on 7 showcase for the ages.
Music played, “Centerfield” by John Fogerty.
“Put me in coach I’m ready to play.”
The first play was called from the sideline. Perfect pass–reception. Next play. Not so perfect this time, incomplete.
The ball snapped again. Post route. Caught. Touchdown–the first one at Simpson University.
Horns blew. Signs waved.
There was no contact–yet. Long passes. Fast plays.
“30-yard line left hash. Inside rush,” Coach Shawn Daniel said.
Light contact was now allowed. Even with light contact, there was comradery between the scrimmaging sides.
Another play was called.
“Ace left ugly.”
This play was not up the middle–it’s a quarterback-keeper.
“No way you kept it, Dev,” the defense chirped from the sideline.
After about 30 plays on the afternoon, the defense came through with an interception.
Bring on the cheer squad–it’s halftime.
The crowd cheered with every move of the stunt routines.
Second half. Full contact.
First down drill now. But where are the chains?
Horns continued to blow. Coach Daniel kept calling plays.
A rushing touchdown for Romeo Clark.
Handoff–another rushing play, a huge truck by the tight end. The whole defense piled on top of Julian Nessi and tried to tackle him. The whistle blew.
Red zone drill. Coach Daniel shouted above the noise.
As the receiver ran his route, he caught the ball in stride. He was quickly tackled by the 5 players on the defense–a shoe flew off. A helmet came off. The pylon was knocked over. Touchdown.
Now the 2-minute drill–the offense with one timeout remaining. They decided not to use it.
Move the chains. No huddle. A “hurry-up offense.”
An audible was called by the quarterback, Devin Anderson.
From the 3-yard line, the last play of the afternoon. The clock was ticking down.
“4, 3, 2…,” Coach Daniel says.
The ball was snapped–passed. Touchdown, Red Hawks.
Friends and family in attendance embraced the players after the game ended. The crowd intermixed with the players as more pictures were taken. Smiles were on everyone’s faces. Chatter increased. Families took pictures with their player as the crowd slowly dispersed.