Wednesday, December 14, 2011

State Champs...

Saturday was the six-man state championship games, both the division I (big school) and division II games were being played in Abilene. Throckmorton was playing Borden County in the division I game. Last year, Throckmorton lost to Garden City in the championship game. This year Throckmorton had been tearing up the fields. Winning nearly every one of their games by the mercy rule.
Now, if you've never seen six-man football it's quite the experience. I think it was best summed up by a friend a couple of years ago when he compared it to college intramural football only higher scoring. It's not uncommon to see scores in the 70's and 80's or even as high as 100. The field is 80 yards long by 40 wide and with 10 less players than traditional football. Also, punts and field goals are almost non-existent. Going for it on fourth down is the norm more than a surprise. And while touchdowns are still worth six points, going for two requires kicking the extra point and running a play (running or passing) is only worth one point. Teams need to go 15 yards, not 10 for a first down, and onside kicks are a regular part of the game and not just kicked late in the game when a team begins to get desperate. Games can get so far out of hand that after halftime if a team goes up by 45 or more the game is over.
This was Throckmorton's third trip to the state championship game and second under coach Mike Reed. This was also Reed's fourth trip to state as a coach. All three of his previous trips were losses, so there were a lot of people pulling for him to finally "get over the hump." Reed's always been a good guy and has helped out every time I've had to do a story about one of his teams, he's one of those guys you can't help but want to see him win. From talking to a few of the parents on the sidelines the last two weeks, not only did they want to win state and see their kids win, the kids wanted it almost as much for their coach.
By six-man standards this was a really low scoring game ending "only" 48-36. It was in essence a defensive battle, even though it didn't start out looking like that. Borden County took the opening snap for a 70-yard touchdown. One great thing about six-man football, unlike its 11-man big brother, is I never fret about missing a touchdown because I know there will be another one soon enough. After that it was all Throckmorton for the rest of the first quarter. The Greyhounds scored 32 straight points to take a pretty commanding lead. It was looking like it would be another 45 for them.
Then in the second half Borden County came out swinging. It's funny, with all the offense in this game no score is ever safe. Borden County came back playing really good defense and pounding the ball out on the ground. With less than 2 minutes left Borden County had closed the gap to 40-36. Throckmorton had the ball and was driving, trying to kill the clock. On 4th-and-1 with less than a minute left and no timeouts the greyhounds line up to go for it (no surprise)... and false started. After the 5-yard penalty on 4th-and-six Throckmorton snaps the ball the defense blitzes and the Throckmorton quarterback threw an ugly knuckle ball looking pass right to a receiver who took it for a 40-yard touchdown.
After recovering a short squib kick with under a minute left in the game it was just a matter of lining up in the victory formation and this one was in the books. It was a really exhilarating game and a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully the next three that I cover in the 11-man state championships next week can compare. It also helped that everything seemed to work, I was really happy with what I shot, both action and reaction.