The Liberty Middle School eighth-grade football team took the field on Saturday, Sept. 11 – all 13 of them.
Thirteen boys dressed in white jerseys over black pants as visitors at Pacific Middle School to play a game they had already lost.
The team they played, as I expect will be the case all season, had more members on the sidelines than Liberty had on the team. Liberty took the field that day in an exhibition after forfeiting due to not having enough eligible players.
I stood on the visitor side in silence. No one cheered, except one mom, who commented on the support of the school. Not exactly a battle cry. Liberty took the opening kick, which was returned for a touchdown. After the next three and out was responded with a Pacific touchdown, I was starting to think it was a disaster. At halftime the score was about 28-6. Liberty showed signs of hope late in the first half with a big run for a touchdown by number 25. The boy’s name wasn’t on the jersey.
At the start of the second half, Liberty marched down the field with a beautiful, mostly run, drive that ended in a loss on downs on Pacific’s 10 yard line. As the second half wore on, the parents started seeing the heart that was displayed by these Lions eighth-graders. The cheering started, and Pacific was getting stopped. I watched a scoreless half of football, where the same 13 boys rotating through the lineup offensively as were on defense, held Pacific over and over.
The game ended as the rain came down, and I heard about 20 parents make as much noise about the heroic effort on the field as I’ve heard at any big time Pop Warner game. I was instantly reminded of the reason I love football. Just for times like these, when there is no hope, but for the sake of the team and just plain pride, a small group will band together to power against impossible odds. Fortunately, this small group of parents got to see it too.
I know there are other Liberty eighth-graders playing football for Pop Warner, maybe they would contribute. Maybe not, but their absence from this game and whatever effect it had melted away by halftime last Thursday.
Chuck Grall is a Camas resident and parent of a Liberty Middle School Lion football player.