On gloriously cool nights like Friday, with fall and fellowship in the air, maybe Spring Hill did not have to get the win to feel satisfied. It was that first end-of -summer night that undeniably feels like autumn; that got cold enough for a hoodie; that the metal bleacher seats sent you to the concession stand for the season’s first cup of hot chocolate; and the first time the sound of shoulder pads clacking against a helmet was not just something heard, but something felt, like a memory in your bones, and it stung! Last night was not about winning or losing; it was about how football and fall can come together to make life and tradition both new and well-worn.
Because even though the Raiders lost badly, last night just being alive felt a victory of a sweeter and softer kind.
But it was Homecoming. And Spring Hill (1-3, 0-1 in District) did fall 33-13 to out-of-district White House Heritage (2-1) in a sloppy, anti-climactic and just plain odd football game. You really only have three things you can do on offense: run, pass or kick. So, If you think of this as having been like a rock, paper, scissors tournament, then out of 57 snaps, WHH went with rock 47 times, crashing through paper defenders and breaking scissoring tackles for 291 yards. Good ‘ole Rock. Nothing beats rock.
But even more Freaky-Friday were the 10 times coach Pat Brown decided he might be getting a tad bit predictable, and threw paper or scissors. WWH threw the ball seven times, and only three were caught. The leading receiver? Spring Hill’s defense, which cut into the Patriots for two interceptions.
The other three plays were a fumble, a missed field goal and a penalty. Also, the Patriots missed an extra point.
In fact, Spring Hill had better stats in a few categories: they didn’t turn the ball over; they passed for 118 more yards; they ran more plays. It was just that faith in rock, that having a better rock than the other guy makes all the difference, and in this game it did. WHH rushed for more yards than Spring Hill had all-together: 288 to 245.
But it being homecoming last night, for the Raiders, the loss might not hurt so much, for the players at least- in fact, homecoming might make winning or losing at what is, really, only a game and where nothing, truly, is at stake;, especially for a high school kid, just 15, 16 or maybe 18, who plays a game that so many take so seriously and that breaks these just-got-done-being kids into depersonalizing numbers, like height, weight, speed, catches, rushes, throws, interceptions, sacks. The young adult, the kid, the person who has not had time yet to learn much perspective or maturity -about life, love, loss- those in the community, and media, sometimes seem forget who lives not behind those numbers but so often is seen through them; how others see you is often how you come to see yourself, a wise parent told me one day.
So let’s wish Spring Hill High School students a Happy Homecoming! Congratulations to Ashley Hansen, who was named Queen ‘14, and let’s not forget that winning or losing doesn’t mean anything. What means something is the experience of the first fall day, hot chocolate and remembering that life is and should be much, much wider, for fans and players, than 100 by 53 ⅓ yards