It’s third and 14. We are down by 7 points. The corners were playing deep, preparing for the pass. As I survey the field, I call out my check downs. “45’s the Mike,” as I let my quarterback (QB) know the blitz was coming. I snap the ball, step back in pass protection ready for the linebacker to come through the whole. I step back, and he breezes past me and tackles the QB in the backfield bringing up fourth down. He’s been beating me all game, and nothing has changed as he tackles my teammate in the backfield once again. In these moments I could easily just admit that he’s a better player than me. I could easily just give up and accept defeat. Only three minutes remain in the game. But as my QB was sacked, my coach from the sidelines chanted our team motto. “What’s the most important play?” He would ask, and as one whole team we would shout in unison, “The next play.”
The opposing team takes the ball, and our defense sends them with a four and out giving us one last chance. One-minute left, with over 79 yards to go. We break out of huddle. First play, 43 Dive. Our QB, Ryeil, hands the ball off to Collin, the running back, as he rushes for a gain of 15 yards. Still 64 to go. We set up, hurry up offense as Ryeil gives us the call, “Florida, Florida!” That means Wildcat Double reverse sweep on 2. Ryeil calls my teammate, Luke, in motion. As he hands Luke the ball, then the other receiver is handed the ball, who then secretly hands it to Ryeil. I lead block for Ryeil, take down a defender as Ryeil rushes for 34 yards and steps out of bounds to stop the clock, 7 seconds left, with no timeouts. We gather in the huddle and are signaled for our play-action pass. I grow tense because that means I have to block number 45 one more time. Every time I had to block him, he would escape and tackle Ryeil. I think to myself: this is the next play. We line up at the ball, and I call my check downs once again. I snap the ball, and I watch the defender take his hesitation step to fake the pass coverage. He drills his left heel down and shoots out like a bottle rocket towards me. I take a deep breath and use my leverage against his. I lower my hips as I wait for the linebacker. As we initiate contact, I place my hands beneath his shoulder pads, and as my body is centered, I drive with all my force and lift the linebacker up in the air and slam him onto his back. His mouth piece flies into the air. Ryeil fakes the ball to Collin and passes it deep to Luke, and just like that we finish as victorious!
Through football I’ve learned the principal that the most important play is the next play, because life will always throw you hard times and obstacles that will bring you down and in times make you believe that some circumstances are impossible to defeat. FFA members, it isn’t about how bad you miss the mark because failure is inevitable. It’s about how many times you get back up and rise to the occasion and overcome any challenge that you face because THAT is what will make you victorious.