That One Special Day

This story is going to seem a little morbid for the celebration Maryville has just experienced, but I hope I can relate it to the football state championship.  The story is about a very old play called Our Town.  

Our Town starts with high school sweethearts, then their marriage and finally the death of the wife, Emily.  She dies during childbirth of her second child, so she is young and not ready to give up on life.

The undertaker, who sees the dead, tells her she can return to one day in her life before she has to settle down and rest with the others that have died.  She chooses her 12th birthday.  You are right if you’re thinking what does this have to do with a state championship.

I saw Our Town on a black and white television when I was about 10 years old. I was at my grandparents.  I was curious about death because my mother had recently passed away during childbirth. Even though I was young, I related to this play.

The play had hardly any props.  The graves were simply folding chairs lined up in order.  The part of the play that stuck with me was Emily’s choice to pick her 12th birthday as the one day she wanted to repeat.

I’ve been very lucky to have a great many things happen to me in my lifetime.  With all due respect to births and family celebrations, the day I would chose would be the day my high school girls’ basketball team won the state championship.

Highlights started early when the local grocer asked to stop on our way to Lincoln where the noon game was played.  He had two cases of non-alcoholic champagne for our post-game celebration.  I would have never thought of that.

Thanks to my uncle, we had the perfect scout for the pressing defense the Omaha team played.  We scored early and we scored late and won the game by 23 points.

The bus took a victory lap when we returned to Wilber.  Fans packed the Carriage House in Clatonia for victory dinner.  We watched the replay of the game on a tiny television.  No one cared.

A select few of us went to Rehm’s Tavern. At 1:00 am, my friend Dick, locked the doors but no one was told to go home. We waited in that tavern until the morning papers were delivered to the post office.  At 4:00 am, we were the first to read what the state writers thought of the game.

If I was given a chance to return to one day, I would probably ask to go back to that very day.  There’s just something about being the last team without a loss that releases a sense of joy and relief.

The Spoofhounds had an early game Saturday.  They scored early and they scored late.  Mostly, they scored early. They dominated the game so thoroughly, the clock ran without a stoppage most of the second half.  You don’t see that often in a state championship game.

The joy of the 47 – 9 victory spilled onto Faurot Field on the University of Missouri campus.  The players and coaches lined up to receive their hardware.  The trophy was handed out. Interviews told stories of a team that had really jelled. I had a vision of the locked arms during the coin toss.

After a meal at a buffet, the ride home had to be memorable.  A parade through Main Street must have been very cool. The fireworks at the school were the cherry on top of all the dessert.

I’m not sure what the coaches did after all team went their own directions for smaller celebrations.  They deserved a bar owner that was willing to lock the doors.

Looking back, things did not look very rosy after the Chillicothe game, the first regular season loss in years.  Just when the team’s play was improving, Smithville provided a punch to the mouth.  In hindsight, I’m glad all the occurred.  It made the accomplishment all that much sweeter.

The team made decisions only the team could make.  Individuals made decisions only they alone could have made.  It was decided to win and not individual glory.  

The coaches faced a real dilemma.  For the first time in Matt Webb’s head coaching tenure, the team had lost a regular season game.  Injuries were piling up.  Teams were running on our defense.  We weren’t running on some defenses.

The coaches showed they could adjust. They proved they could build a winner through great schemes. The players and coaches pulled it off.

I’m not sure if this is a day any of the coaches and players will want to revisit someday.  It wouldn’t be a bad choice.

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