Friday Night Lights 2014: Week 2

Tonight was a beautiful night for football. It rained for a couple hours this afternoon and a low front bringing cool air from the north swung through, so the evening was damp and crisp. It was a pants and jacket night; to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I wore pants instead of shorts before tonight.

My dad and I walked north on First Avenue tonight to attend the Cascade–Regina game. Why? He wanted to go and I have no clue why. Frankly, I would rather have gone to Tiffin, Lone Tree, or maybe Mt. Vernon for the once epic rivalry between Mt. Vernon and Solon. But, alas, we went to Regina, which hosted the only game in town. City High played at Bettendorf (Bettendorf won, 48–17) and West traveled to West Des Moines Valley (Valley won, 27–6).

We arrived when the sophomore or JV game was entering the fourth quarter. Dad was not happy. He’s anxious, eager, and always in a hurry, even when he’s not doing anything. We walked around the home stand for a little bit. I wanted to sit on the visitor’s side, but I followed dad to a spot right in front of the Panchero’s Patio on the home side. Behind us was a sign that read “ELEMENTARY STUDENTS” — which we definitely are not so we moseyed on over to the visitor’s side.

The nice thing about Regina’s stadium, especially the visitor’s side, is that one is much closer to the action. The chatter on the sideline is clearly audible. Cascade’s JV team was trailing by only four points and the players were amped. They were screaming encouragement to no one in particular. “COME ON! Let’s go. Right here!” The players and coaches on the sideline followed the line of scrimmage as a herd.

Eventually the JV game ended and the varsity players took the field to warm up. The sun was setting and the clouds overhead were dappled with pinkish orange. Regina almost had as many assistant coaches as Cascade had players. Not really, but Regina has nine or ten assistant coaches, many of which are former Hawkeye football players. Most of the schools the Regals play probably have two coaches, period.

ANYWAY. The Regals received the opening kickoff and drove the ball 60 yards to take a 7–0. On that drive, what looked like a backward pass was called incomplete. A backward pass is technically a lateral and, if not caught, is a fumble and up for grabs. A Regina player recovered the ball, but the incomplete signal looked a little questionable. Someone in the Cascade stand yelled, “How much does Marv pay you?” (Marv Cook is Regina’s head coach.)

The next couple drives for either team did not go anywhere. After a three-and-out, Cascade punted and the ball rolled out of bounds near the Regina 20 yard line. However, in another questionable officiating decision, the ball was placed at the 25. The Cascade fans were understandably miffed. (This seems to be a good place to note that two members of the chain gang were wearing Regina hats. The officials are the ones who spot the ball, and chain gang members are usually local volunteers, but I thought the choice of head gear was interesting.) After a long TD run was negated by an illegal procedure penalty, the Regals ran a pitch play on fourth-and-inches and the running back scampered down the sideline into the end zone.

Here comes questionable officiating call number three. On the ensuing PAT, the snap was low and the Regina holder could do nothing but fall on the ball. However, after some thought, the ref threw a flag for illegal procedure, giving the Regals the chance to try again five yards back. The Regals than booted the extra point through the uprights. Hmm… I turned to my dad and asked, “If they would have kicked that the first time, do you think the ref would have made that call?” He shook his head.

After another two three-and-outs, Cascade drove the ball down the field and scored on a passing play, cutting the deficit in half, 14–7. The visitors were energized, but their excitement did not last. On the first play of their ensuing drive, the Regals busted a 68-yard run to push their lead to 21–7.

At this point in the game I was glad I wore pants. A damp chill was starting to set in and a nice breeze made it cooler. It was perfect football weather, though.

The next three drives were three-and-outs. Regina started their last drive of the first half on their own 47. They drove the ball inside the 20 and then scored a TD on a pass to the QB, increasing the lead to 28–7.

When we arrived there was the prospect we would leave at halftime — if the game was out of hand. It was getting that way. A number of the Cascade players played both offense and defense and Regina, with its specialized players in their own positions, much like a larger high school, college, and pro team, were starting to wear the Cougars down. Basically, the game was getting out of hand. Plus, my dad turned to me and said, “This game won’t get over until eleven o’clock.” Way past his bedtime. So we left at the half.

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