The tournament of tournaments

My team has risen from the ashes of defeat, determined. Bigger, better, faster, stronger, we set out to rebound from last year’s humiliation. We didn’t take it seriously then, you see; we didn’t know what we were dealing with. This wasn’t just a tournament, it was the granddaddy of them all, and we assumed we had the winnings in the bag. That attitude cost us the glory of becoming champions, cost us the bragging rights that come with entering such a prestigious event and reigning victorious. Even then, the stakes were high; this year, they get even higher. By one player.

This is the Fairmount Four-on-Four Football Tournament. This is no joke. And this time around, Tyler DeBlaze, Corey Moloney, Jesse Whitman, and I… we will take no prisoners.

Previously, the aforementioned tournament of tournaments was three-on-three, with four teams vying for the championship. Each hopeful squad would play each other to the score of 35 (aka five touchdowns), and the two units that came out with the best records would compete to win it all. Tyler, Corey, and I waltzed into that tournament as the overwhelming favorites (source: us), and confidently laid the mandatory ten dollars on the line, expecting 40 buckaroonies in return. The aroma of our celebratory Pizza Street dinner practically danced in our noses. We couldn’t lose.

You see, we couldn’t lose because we were in our element. From one faded blue soccer goal to the other, this field was our home, our stomping ground. The rock hard ground was the same combination of grass and dust, the later making up the majority, that we had attained many dramatic victories on in the past– why would today be any different? As we warmed up on that cloudy, calm afternoon, our confidence was almost palpable to the other suckers–err, players. Never did we expect what would happen next.

It was an absolute confidence crusher, a mojo murderer. A first round loss… to *gulp*… soccer players. Ryan Schoenwandt and Clayton Luley to be precise, with Alex Ottinger being the only non-ball kicker. Their speed was unexpected, and their stamina was unmatched– those traits alone were enough to outweigh our fancy play calls and home field advantage. Their “get open” approach took us off guard, and they won rather convincingly. The trio proceeded to roll over the rest of their competition. At the finish line, the pretty boys waited, a perfect 3 and 0.

Meanwhile, our team battled back. With Corey at quarterback, and Tyler and I at wide receiver, we overcame the team of Cody Jones, Pierce Bloebaum, and non-Spartan Brendan Lewis in a thriller of a contest. I knocked the recently concussed Pierce loopy in the beginning, and the poor boy had no chance. Big plays, costly fumbles, and an abrupt conclusion won us the game, which came down to the wire. One quick spanking of Blake Beck and company later, and we sat with the second best record in the tournament. Finally, hope returned; las futbolistas were going down.

Well, if we could catch our breath. Lordie Lordie, that game was a gasser. The game time decision that changed score limit to six touchdowns didn’t help, but it was mostly because those darned soccer players never got tired. We were practically on the move the whole time, each team trading touchdowns like a game of Madden. But alas, we kept on chugging. After a bit of a slip up, a clutch interception by “Ball Hawk” Corey Moloney put us right back in the game. On the ensuing play, I switched to quarterback and lofted a beautiful touch pass to Corey on a fade route, a touchdown that will go down in the annals of Fairmount football history.

And then we lost. Just like that, those meddling kids won on a long scramble by Schoenwandt. Pitilessly, the 40 dollars was swiped from our greedy hands. No money, no glory, and we had to pay for our own Pizza Street. The pizza was horrible. It tasted like undercooked failure.

But this year, oh this year will be different. The taste of defeat is still fresh in our mouths, a taste we’re incapable of washing down with anything but a cup of victory. Corey will remain the gear shifter, controlling our every move at the quarterback position, and Tyler and I will reprise our role as receivers, serving as the NOS to give our team some speed. Our secret weapon, Jesse Whitman, will be the power behind our high-octane machine. In addition to our talent, the playbook is already drawn up, and oh baby, it’s a beaut. We’ll be moving the imaginary chains like dreaming jewelry thieves. The fame, the money, the undercooked pizza … they’ll all be ours.

So mark your calendars, guys. Oct. 6, 2012. Fairmount Elementary. We will claim our rightful spot atop the backyard football throne. Then, we will feast. Crappy pizza, great price.