The Underdog

By

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Eshan Shameem 

Zach is a normal kid, going to an average school, with average grades. He’s never been special at anything. His best friend since kindergarten, Jake, is the star of the football team and is the best in all of his classes. Zach has always looked up to Jake. Both Zach and Jake are seniors. Jake has already gotten a scholarship to The Ohio State University to play football, but for Zach, he might have to go to a below average college. Zach has always liked football, but his parents have never felt comfortable allowing him to play. What they say really puts him down. He’s always wanted to play football.

  His parents always expect more out of him even if he gets an A. They always ask him why he did not get a better grade. His teachers couldn’t care less about who he was or how he was doing, but all the teachers loved Jake. He’s always been jealous of Jake and how his life is. Zach was born into a rich family, unlike Jake, who was born in a ghetto environment, so he’s never had something given to him, he had to earn it all. 

One day they were walking to school Zach said, “I’m going to try out for the football team.” Jake was surprised, “Really, your parents would kill you if they found out you were playing football.” Zach has always known that he had always been special in football, but he has never been able to show it. Zach said to Jake, “I don’t care if my parents find out, I just want to show people I am special at something.” Jake said “I am in football because my parents let me. Without their consent, I would have never done it.” Zach didn’t care, he just wanted to play football. Their school’s football team wasn’t very good, so Zach thought it would be easy to get into the team. What he didn’t know was, the football coach was the science teacher.

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The science teacher hated Zach. Zach didn’t know why He’s had decent grades and has never been disrespectful to him either. Zach talked to the principal about it, but his science teacher lied. Jake said to him, “You know the football coach is the science teacher right?” That tore him apart. He wondered how he going to get in now. He decided that he was going to go and confront the science teacher. “Hi Mr. Smith,” he said. Mr. Smith said menacingly, “What do you want.” Zach said confidently, “I want to try out for the football team.” Mr. Smith added, “The season started two weeks ago, I’m afraid it’s too late for you to try out.” Zach knew that was untrue. “Mr. Smith, why do you dislike me so much.” Mr. Smith turned around and stared at him like a hunter staring at its prey. “Do not talk to me like that, I am your teacher and you have to respect me!” Zach didn’t even say anything in a disrespectful tone. They talked for 30 minutes about Zach’s tryout. 

Later that day, Zach went to the field to try out. When he met Mr. Smith he already knew  Mr. Smith wasn’t going to let him in. The try-out started; first up was the forty-yard dash. Zach ran a 4.45, which is very good. Zach also wants to play quarterback because his favorite player is Carson Wentz. He did some drills for the tryout, and some of the players were in awe. They’ve never seen anyone in that caliber of talent. Mr. Smith knew that the team could benefit from him. “Alright, you got talent kid,” said Mr. Smith. “Thanks, Mr. Smith, but am I in,” said Zach happily. Mr. Smith said, “I haven’t made any decisions yet, but you look like our new starting quarterback. Zach was so excited, but he wanted to stay humble. 

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The next day, Zach was in math class. The teacher was handing out the math tests. Zach thought he got a perfect score, but he was wrong. Zach had failed the test. When he flipped the test he was in shock. He knew he was going to get grounded and not be able to go to football practice. When he got home, his parents gave him an hour-long lecture. He was so mad. “How did this even happen,” his mom said. “He studied every day for this test, how did he fail,” his dad questioned. The truth is, Zach wasn’t studying for his test. He was watching football. He was grounded. He thought of a way to go to football practice though. Zach would tell his parents that he had a project with Jake and it was necessary for him to go out. He told his parents the lie. He was in the clear.

His first football practice was great. He learned the different plays, and the different defenses some teams run. He was having such a great time. Best of all, Mr. Smith actually liked him. When his first football game came around, he won the best player of the week. He threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns. The next game he was even better throwing for 500 yards and 7 touchdowns, also running for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was having the best time of his life. Until one of his neighbors said to his parents, “Your son is one great football player.” His parents wondered what the man was talking about, so they asked Zach if he was playing football. He told them the truth. His parents took him out of football. He begged them not to, but the didn’t listen.

The next few weeks were the most miserable weeks of his life. He didn’t know what to do. The football team was losing all of their games, and Mr. Smith started disliking him again. He did not talk to his parents very much anymore. He just wanted to play football again. He begged his mom if he could play football again. They had a conversation. “Why do you want to play football so much.” His mom asked. “I’ve never been special at anything, now I have the chance to show the world that I have talent,” Zach explained. His mom never thought of it like that, she never knew Zach loved football so much. His mom let him go back to football. Zach was so happy. His mom said, “I want to see you score 10 touchdowns, and win the championship.” He wouldn’t let his mother down.

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They won every single game after he came back. They went 12 and 3 and earned a chance to win the championship. The championship was in one day. Zach was so pumped; He’s never been in something so special. He went to Jake’s house to pump up. They created a play that they thought was great. They texted all of their teammates and the coach the play, and they all approved. 

It was the day of the Championship. The other school just arrived at the stadium. Everyone had butterflies in their stomach; some people had not even shown up yet. Fifteen minutes had passed. Only 10 minutes till the game. The coach just told them a great motivational speech. All the players didn’t want to let him down. The next ten minutes were the longest ten minutes of his life. He kept on thinking, “what if I throw the game losing interception,” or, “what if I get injured at the end of the game.” Then the game started.

Down 21 to 3 in the fourth quarter, Zach walked out to the field determined to win. The coach called a pass play. Zach threw for 15 yards in the first play and got the first down. The second play, not seeing anyone open he ran for 11 yards. The next two plays were incomplete passes. It was 3rd and 10, this was one of the most important plays in the game. Coach called a run play thinking the opponent would get tricked. Zach saw it was a blitz play and audibled to a pass play. The ball was snapped, there was almost instant pressure. Zach ran out of the pocket, he saw Jake wide-open. He threw the ball 30 yards out for a touchdown. Now they needed a stop on defense.

The defense trotted out onto the field knowing they needed a stop. First play 10 yards, Second play 15 yards. They were already in the red zone. The opponent threw the pass, the safety ran up to the ball. The ball was tipped and was intercepted. The safety ran for the end zone. The only person he had to beat was the quarterback. He faked going left then went to the right. The quarterback went to the left, knowing that he made the biggest mistake in the game. The crowd roared as the safety walked into the end zone. It was 21 to 17. They kicked the ball off. The returner decided to run the ball instead of taking a knee. Zach’s team’s biggest player hit him so hard the returner fumbled. Zach’s team came up with the ball, now all they needed was a touchdown and they would win the game. 

Zach asked the coach if they could run the play, the coach said yes, but first, they needed to run down the clock. The first two plays they ran the ball to the two-minute warning. Coach told them to run the play. Zach told the team “Champions,” which was the name of the play. They walked out of the huddle knowing the play was going to work. Zach faked telling the offensive line something. While he telling the offensive line unreal adjustments, the ball was snapped. The defense did not know what was going on. The running back tossed the ball to Jake, while Zach was running to the end zone. Jake threw the ball to Zach, the ball looked like it was in the air forever. Zach caught the ball one-handed for a touchdown, and for the first time in the game they were winning.

The problem was they missed the extra point, and the other team could win the game with just a field goal. There was still an entire minute left on the clock. Zach was scared that the defense could not stop the opposing team’s offense. They kicked the ball off. The opposing team’s returner decided to knee the ball instead of risking what happened the last time. The first two plays were completed passes for 30 yards. Zach knew it, he knew they were going to lose. With only 5 seconds on the clock, the opponent called a timeout. They were going to attempt a field goal. They brought the kicker out. The field was from 40 yards out. Zach prayed that they would block the kick. They snapped the ball, one blocker on the left missed his block. Right as the kicker kicked the ball Jake put his body in front of the ball and blocked it. Zach realized he was a champion, and ran out onto the field screaming, “YES!” Both Jake and Zach were so happy. 

In the next few months, many scouts looked at Zach’s tape and saw he was the best in the country. Zach got many calls from many different colleges. He was so happy that he got scholarships from so many colleges. Since being from Ohio, Zach chose to go to Ohio State with his best friend Jake. Now they are the best in the NFL playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Thank you

  • Eshan Shameem for the article which I suppose is the first, to be followed by many more regularly.
  • Jafar Shameem for the beautiful pictures; needless to say that your photographs add special flavour to the written words.

 

 

 

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