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Balls: Prepping for Football Play-Offs

In his father’s barebones corner of the basement, my son David studied game tape of East Lansing's second play-off game opponents of the 2001 season.

He perched on the edge of the seat of the blue leather chair, his feet planted on the drab grey concrete floor, his body a perfect capital L.

On the screen little football players were either lined up orderly for scrimmage or scampering, running the play. David kept his eyes on the screen, while his laugh rose with the heat escaping from the dryer.

“Even I could be a speedster on this team,”he said over his shoulder.

I left the pile of half-folded hot towels on the dryer door and stepped over behind him. “I thought you said you were fast.”

“Well, I, uh, I am, Mom, but on this team I could be Antoine.”

Ah, Antoine, speedmeister of East Lansing, of the entire Lansing area, the Capital Area conference and the District, as was proven last week in the first play-off game: Antoine runs, he jukes, he leaves them in the dust. My personal star was the guy who keeps his muscles clear of fat by eating his vegetables.

I gathered up the towels and trooped upstairs to the family room. I could barely see my husband's dark handsome face between the wings of my garage-sale chair. Body-thumping noises came from the soundtrack of his action movie. I set the pile of towels on the big blue hassock, said to Michael: “The feature playing in the basement is Midgeville.”

This is my name for our Friday night game guest, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg. Later, at the game I discovered their cheerleaders call their school “MT.”

Michael roused himself from the wing chair. I followed him down with another load of laundry.

Michael leaned close to the screen. He studied the football pile-up. “They’re slow,”he agreed “But they are strong. Look here through the middle.”

“Isn’t that where you play, Dave,”I called over from the washer. “Up the middle?”

“Straight up the middle,” his dad said, “and nobody is getting through there on this team.”

As another play on screen ended, Michael winced and his face jumped.

“It’s a wall. And these ends over here? When the play pops outside, they wait to snap on anybody escaping the crash. Don’t laugh too hard at these boys,” Dad, the soothsayer advised his son, “lest they get the last laugh.”

That was the last of the laughter in the book-lined corner in front of the computer with the VCR attached. Michael continued his analysis in low tones as I retired upstairs. When they came up for air, the father had convinced the son not to take this opponent too lightly. Not too lightly.

Next blog: the play-off game

#EastLansing #DavidBarker #Highschoolfootball #FootballMom

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