All season long, I have not been very nervous ahead of any of the DC football games.
Could we lose? Sure.
Did I think we would? Eh, if I’m being honest, not really.
Would it be the end of the world if we lost? Again, not really.
This attitude has served me well all season long. Kept me from getting too high, and too low.
However, ahead of the Section Championship game against Litchfield, for some reason I reverted to a line of thinking that can only be described as pessimistic, with a side of doomsday prep.
I’ve struggled to reconcile why. I’ve come to the conclusion that this game was the first one in which the knowns vastly outweighed the unknowns.
It was, after all, the first time in which we were playing a team we had already faced. The first game against Litch, in week 5 of the regular season, was a battle all game long, and one in which the Dragons came out on top by a score of 14-13.
For the first time, I knew exactly what the opponent featured. I knew exactly how they were going to attack us. I knew exactly that the Dragons were a phenomenal team all the way around, and if we didn’t play a dang-near-immaculate game, we would once again fall short in the section championship, like we did last season.
It was a rough week. My brow was furrowed. My cheeks were clenched. My jawline gained two extra jowls.
Ok, that last one probably wasn’t from the game.
But bottom line, for the first time all season, I fretted.
(If you’re looking for new things to try, I would give fretting one out of five stars).
Below is a glimpse into the mind of a temporarily neurotic DC football reporter, Dad, and fan, from the Litchfield-DC football game. Watch as he unsuccessfully attempts to temper his emotions.
Litchfield drives down the field and scores easily on their first drive. [Yeah, this is it. It’s going to be 35-0. Y’know what, it was a great season. Most teams would love to be 8-2].
DC drives down the field to tie the game at 7-7, scoring a touchdown on 4th-and-1 from the 16. [Welp we need to get this first down or it’s all over … YEAH BOOOYS!]
Litchfield’s next drive is stalled at their own 47. Gabe Aamot has a huge tackle for loss, and the Chargers hold on 4th-and-4. [Brain.exe stopped working. Reboot. … are you kidding?!?! What a play.]
Chargers take advantage to score, again on 4th down, to take a 13-7 lead. [Heart.exe stopped working. Reboot].
Dragons respond by driving all the way down the field to tie the game with 17 seconds left before halftime, 13-13. [Oh hey, there’s that other shoe dropping! This is why I don’t wish for nice things.]
Second half, DC scores first to take a 19-13 lead. Nik Keith hauls in an incredible 24-yard reception on 4th-and-13 down to the Litchfield 5, and Monte Gillman runs it in. [Hopes increase 400%. Fistbump Perry Thinesen.exe. All is right with the world.]
Litchfield responds with a touchdown drive of their own, and get the extra point to take a 20-19 lead. [Hopes dashed. The world is a an uncaring, cruel place indeed].
Monte Gillman scores on 4th down, and DC connects on the two-point conversion, to go up 27-20 with 5:37 left. [Celebration muted.exe. Can we stop them on defense?]
They reach the DC 32.
On first down, they gain two yards. [Noice].
On second down, they gain two yards. [Double noice].
On third down, they gain four yards, to put them at 4th-and-2 from the DC 24.
On fourth down … [What happened? I couldn’t see it, it was on the opposite side of the field, it looked like we stopped them. Did we stop them? WE STOPPED THEM??]
[Circuits temporarily short out as emotions override logic].
Play resumes. DC has the ball with just over a minute left.
[Ok well it’s not quite done yet. We need one more first down to clinch it].
Chargers roll for a first down on the first play, with Caleb Smock getting a big push from his teammates for 13 yards.
[That should do it, right?]
[They’re kneeling down, this is it.]
[We did it. WE DID IT!!]
[Is this real life?]
An hour later:
Following the incredible DC football victory, I got a bit of a palate cleanser and internal hardware reset the following day, in my annual trip to the cross country state tournament.
I love covering cross country, and the Class AA State tournament was once again a treat (except for one element, which I’ll discuss later).
It was a beautiful day at the Les Bolstad Golf Course at the University of Minnesota.
The Chargers had four runners participating at the state meet, Soren Bortnem (SR), Charlie Bortnem (SO), Nic Johnson (JR), and Amanda Ashwill (JR).
All four runners had great performances.
Soren finished as “All-State” for the third straight season, finishing in 13th place. Soren will go down as one of the best cross country runners in DCHS boys history.
Charlie, after his incredible effort at the section meet at Collinwood, had a very solid meet at state, finishing in 32nd place. He was just 7 spots off All-State honors.
Nic Johnson improved 23 spots from two seasons ago at the state meet, taking 109th.
Amanda Ashwill, meanwhile, ran the best race of her career with a 19:32. It was good for 50th place at the state meet, and the second fastest 5K race in DC girls history.
The cross country state meet was held at the U of MN St. Paul campus this season, after 22 years at St. Olaf in Northfield.
I was very excited to have the venue in a new location this year, as it had been a straight up disaster at St. Olaf, in regard to parking.
You either had to arrive 1.5 hours early and hope to catch a shuttle, or race up and over the hill at St. Olaf on foot.
Either way, as I found, you would be lucky to get to the meet on time.
I thought it would be different this year, in St. Paul.
It was not.
I arrived into the parking lot 62 minutes ahead of the boys race.
The line for the shuttle snaked for what I’m guessing was 1/3 of a mile, with no shuttle buses arriving for over 15 minutes at one point.
I fortunately arrived at the course three minutes ahead of the boys race, and was able to capture some photos.
Needless to say, however, a big fat BOOOO to the MSHSL for once again mangling the fan parking situation at the cross country state meet.
I know I have a tendency to use obscure words in my columns.
In my mind, it’s not because I’m trying to come across as more smarter than other persons.
I honestly just like exploring the English language, and I like to have a little bit of fun with words.
My wife and I were discussing my latest column in the kitchen recently. I had used the words “internecine” and “eschewed”.
My son Isaac came in and accused me of being “grandiloquent.”
I’ve never been more proud of him.
[Grandiloquent: pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner, especially in a way that is intended to impress.
Trepidanxiousness: a word I made up to seem grandiloquent.]