Not Quite Football

I know you think is going to be a story about a game against the t-sips. That's the next story in the list. This one is about a football game that is somewhat unique. It's only experienced by juniors and seniors in the Aggie Band. About 130 fellas. The game is played on the day of Elephant Walk. What is Elephant Walk, you ask. It is an occasion in the fall when the seniors gather together, and wander the campus like old elephants about to die. Freshman and sophomores are to leave the quadrangle, and not come back that day. Underclassmen seen watching E-Walk are in serious trouble. Well, the juniors stage minor attacks with shaving cream, silly string, eggs, and that sort of thing on the seniors going around the campus. The Aggie Band seniors and juniors wrestle to establish supremacy. After the wrestling comes "The Game".

Basically it's is a football game played on a 200 yards strip of grass 40 yards wide. 60 odd seniors vs. 75 odd juniors. And there are only a few rules. The ball is ALWAYS live. Unless it goes out of bounds or you are tackled in possession of the ball. In those cases, the ball goes to the other team. The ends are the goal lines, and each score is worth a single point. It is to your advantage to fumble in the direction of a nearby team mate if you are being tackled. And the teams play to 20. Now both years I played in this game, it was won by the seniors. They dominate early. This is because they know the best strategy. It is always a game full of cheap shots. And brutal tackles. No pads. Tackle football. Its a knock down, drag 'em out fight. And the juniors charge in mass toward the senior goal, while the seniors (subtly), spread out throughout the field. The juniors try to block and get a score. Well the seniors on defense attack the ball carrier. They stop him at all costs, and then bomb pass the ball to the junior end of the field, where the seniors dwarf the juniors left in defense there. It takes time for juniors to catch on to the sensibility of this strategy, and usually fall about 5 points behind, and end up being bested. As a junior I remember falling 20-14. And as a senior, we took a 10 point advantage at one point, 14-4. We even led 19-12. Then the juniors had an unprecedented run of 7 unanswered points to tie it at 19. Then we scored and finished them off 20-19. The key to their resurgent run that nearly swung them the victory was Mike Pratt. He was a behemoth. And they learned that by handing him the ball, he was tough to stop once he built up momentum. But we took him down hard after they made it 19-18. And he left the game with what I think was a concussion. Which brings up the ugly side of the game. By the end, it is reduced to something like 40 on 40. There is a lot of attrition. And usually a broken bone or two. Which the Band Directors hate. Que sera. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

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Copyright © Richard Hay 1998