Because I am fortunate enough to have a sideline view that few share, I have to preface this article by talking about those players who seldom find their names in the articles that appear in the weekly sports columns, those boys who play on the line, some on both sides of the ball.
I don’t know just how much is visible from the stands, but there were definitely standouts this week found right there on the line of scrimmage, where they took a pounding every single play of the game as they knocked heads, trying to either buy time for the offensive backs or put enough pressure on the Zebra O to cause mistakes. The exhaustion on their faces is evident, and yet I never get the impression that any of them want to be anywhere except in the game.
And with that said….Let’s Play Ball!*
When the Indians and the Zebras lined up Friday night, I must admit that I was nervous. Grandview took the opening kick and marched down the field, adding 7 points to the end of that first drive, in spite of very good D from Indians like Ryan Senger and Xavier Gomez, and I was thinking…”Oh, my…”
Of course, it was the perfect example of “Oh ye of little faith,” I came to realize very quickly because there was still 5:22 left in the first quarter when Wyatt Mankin burst over the line, doing a great job of making sure that the ball crossed into the end zone before he rolled out of bounds.
On the next Zebra possession, it was great D with the standout performance of Brandon Garcia, Xavier Gomez, and Brandon Thedford that forced the punt, Indians taking the ball on their own 35.
With 1:02 left in the 1st period, it was 3rd down when Nance released a long do or die pass from his own territory. It was Thedford who pulled it in, landing the tribe on the Zebra 30. The Indians immediately picked up a penalty, backing them up to the 35, but on the next play from scrimmage, it was Wyatt Mankin again who sprinted the 35 yards into the end zone with 10.8 seconds left in the quarter. Indians were on top 13-7.
Grandview had no intention of rolling over and with 11:35 left in the half, the Zebras were over the goal line once again and up 14-13. The Indians took the kickoff, but this drive went nowhere, and with 10:03 left in the half, were forced to punt.
On the next set of Zebra downs, it was 3rd and 5 with 9 minutes left when defense from Weston Conine set up a 4th and 5 punting situation for the Zebras.
It was Cash Mankin picking up the first 1st down on this series, followed by an unbelievable catch by Ryan Senger, who looked to be inbounds to me, but who apparently was not, and the pass came back. There was nowhere for Wyatt Mankin to run, but a screen to him on the next play took the ball to the Grandview 40 with 6:22 left in the 2nd, 1st down. And no one was going to stop Cash Mankin on the next play as he found his way into the end zone. The pass for 2 to Aaron Urrabazo was good, and the Indians were up 21-14, with 5 minutes still remaining in the half.
With 4:47 left and in a 4th down situation, Grandview took the ball around the far end, the TD avoided only by the quick thinking and speed of Ty McCullough. Trying the play again, it was it was Jose Lombrana, Wyatt Mankin, and Weston Conine who dropped the runner right where he took the handoff. However, it was a pass on the next play that burned the Indians, and the score was tied 21 all with (believe it or not) 3:59 still left in the 1st half!
It was Wyatt Mankn on about a 40 yard run from scrimmage who moved the tribe to the Zebra 9 with 2:28 left in the half. Robert Brooks took the ball down to the 2 (I thought), which turned out to be the 3 on the spot. Cash Mankin took the handoff, laying the ball on the white line, but not quite into the black.
It was 4th and an inch with 54 seconds left in the half. Payton Nance dove across the line for the TD, and with the point after, the tribe was up once again, 28-21 with 28 seconds left.
With only a second left, it was the Zebras up the middle on what was a very scary run, ended only by the great D from Payton Nance, and the Indians went to the locker room up by 7. And just because I like to whine, I will tell you that I was exhausted with another half left to go!
Indians took the opening kick of the 2nd half, and there was nowhere for Cash Mankin to go; however, on the 2nd, Wyatt took the ball from his own 40 all the way to the Zebra 12. A personal foul on Grandview moved the ball half the distance, and the Indians in two plays were on the 6. Wyatt moved us to the inch line, and I was reading Herm’s mind because I called Mason Lorta for the TD. PAT was good, and Indian fans went crazy as the new 35-21 score flashed.
Grandview took the kick to their own 40, where Isaac Bill made the stop, and we were back underway as the Zebras came out throwing! Cash, then Nance, then McCullough saved us on the next 3 plays but with 9:40 left in the 3rd, Grandview was back on the scoreboard, 35-28.
Senger took the kickoff to about our 32 and then backed up deep on 3rd down and on what I was sure was going to be a pass, Nance took off, carrying all the way to the Zebra 38. Two runs and Cash Mankin had us on the Grandview 20, with Mason Lorta picking up and driving to about the 10. Two plays later, Wyatt Mankin was in for the TD, 41-28, and the mother in me almost came out as I was pretty sure that Wyatt had broken his nose on the play.
Indians held, and the Zebras were forced to go for a 4th from about the 50. They missed, and the frustration showed from the shove thrown, and the Indians were on the winning side of a personal foul. The Indians couldn’t punch it in this time, and the ball went over on downs, with the Zebras taking over about their own 30.
Zebras came out slinging the ball, and great D from everyone, especially including Bryson Wright, and the ball came back over on downs from the Zebra 45.
Runs from both Mankins and Lorta and some great blocking by Isaac Bill, and Cash Mankin was in for the next TD. On an unbelievable jump across defenders, Cash was back in for 2, with no Indian fan seated as the band blared a celebration!
A long pass broken up by Payton Nance and great D from Jose Lombrana, Ezequiel Campos, Mason Lorta, and a host of Indians wasn’t enough to offset an Indian penalty and stop the Zebras, 49-35.
The onside kick was recovered by Bryson Wright and on 3rd and 2, 7:53 left in the ballgame it was Lorta powering his way over center and taking the ball all the way to about the Zebra 12 yard line, offensive line doing a tremendous job of blocking. Indians were unable to punch it in, and the ball went over on downs.
And then, the Indians fell apart. After having a Zebra behind the line, they picked up a personal foul, which carried a big penalty, and the Zebras scored on the next play on a 69 yard TD, 49-42 with over 5 minutes still left to play.
With 4:26 left in the game, it was impossible to hear a thing. The bands roared as did the crowds, while both sets of cheerleaders did their best to let their particular teams know that they were behind them all the way. Running backs for the Indians let it be known that they were not going to be stopped this time, and the march from their own 47 began with runs by Mankin twins and Mason Lorta, who finally crossed the line with 1:24 left in the ballgame, 56-42, and that would be the final score of the night.
Oh, and since I’m “almost a football coach,” I’ll tell you that this is exactly what happens when the Comanche Indians decide to play ball from the first kick to the last play of the game!
*Remember, I am a one-man show as I try to take photos and record the game. Be sure to check the Comanche Chief and other publications for correct stats. Our office will have photos ready in the next couple of days.