Going into this week everyone knew what this game meant. The fans, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, the student body, the coaches, and especially the players knew the playoffs were on the line. It does not get simpler than this: win and you're in the playoffs, lose and turn your gear at the end of next week. The game started against Rogers at 7:00 PM as it always does, but the feel was different. The feeling during every snap was hard to take. Was this the play to send us to the playoffs, or was it the play that would force the season and careers to end earlier than planned. With all of the tension and all the pressure, you knew this game would be the type of game that we would all remember forever. The game lived up to the hype and what it game it was.
The game started with a bang as the Zebras marched down the field and took an early 7-0 lead. That’s when things started getting tough. Rogers was playing for a possible playoff berth as well and they did not travel to Claremore to roll over. At that time the defenses took the game over and acted like an immovable wall. The defenses were not going to be the reason either team lost the game and it was one punt after another as the defenses stood their ground. The Zebras took that lead narrow lead into halftime, and the offensive coaches went to work trying to figure out how to put points on the board. It was one of those halftimes that seemed way too short, but it didn’t matter it was time to take the field to see which team was going to fight until the final whistle.
The second half started with Rogers busting a long touchdown to tie the score at 7 with just over 8 minutes to go in the 3rd. Now the Zebras were backed into a corner and had lost all the momentum. How would we respond, did we have it in us to get up and fight? Rocky Balboa once said, “it’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” That is exactly what the Zebras did, they pulled themselves up off the canvas, put their hands up and gestured come on, we are not done yet.
After that, the game continued just as the first half had, the defenses had come to play and were not going to break. Now we are deep into the 4th quarter and are getting the ball back with just under 2 minutes left and 60-plus yards to win the game. Those 60 yards were the most important offensive drive of the season. As I said earlier, it wasn’t just an offensive drive, it’s what this drive held at the end. At the end was not just a touchdown, it was the winning touchdown that keep the dreams of the players, coaches, and fans alive. That is when it hit everyone like a ton of bricks, RISE UP. The theme of the season and what it meant. In the back of the kid’s heads I know they were hearing voices, rise up, now is the time to rise up. A minute and a half later, the Zebras did what the Zebras do, they ran the ball. They leaned on the line and said you just have to be tougher than them and they were. They leaned on the junior tailback and said I know you’re tired but we need you to find a way, and he did. After all, the dust settled and the clock hit zero, the Zebras clinched a playoff spot 14-7 over Rogers. Just like the title of the article, the last thing I will say is, WHAT A GAME.
Would also like to say congrats to the whole Zebra football family and this week’s Player of the Week. Offensive POW Micah Teel. Defensive POW Gage Deckard. JV POW L.T. Hecht. Special team’s POW Trevor Panther. Without these guys, as well as the rest of the team, this night would not have happened.