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football 1015ALast Saturday was an absolutely beautiful fall day, sunny, 60 and clear.  A day that Mother Nature doesn't allow us Northeasterners to get too accustom to this time of year.  At around 11:15 am, twenty six young men marched out of the locker room of the Lansing High school to load the equipment bags into the small gray van.  They then huddled around their Head coach, John Winslow, to listen and learn.  He never raised his voice.  He didn't speak long or lecture.  At no time did he say anything negative or derogatory.  What he did state was that today would not be like last Friday night.  Every game, from today on, they would be playing for the state championship.

The three and one, Lansing Bobcats boarded the bus knowing clearly that their mission today was to be successful, safe and victorious.  Forty one miles to the south, the players from Thomas A. Edison (TAE) were starting to arrive at their school.  The Spartans, with their one and four record, were preparing for battle and their homecoming.

football 1015-50#30 Tim Kelley running through the 2 acre hole created by the Lansing linemen

The Spartans kicked the ball to start the game.  # 38, Armani Fagan, booted the ball 58 yards where it was received by #1, Greg Lee.  Lee returned it 23 yards, supplying the Bobcats with decent field position.  Coach Butler, the cats offensive coordinator called for a couple of runs by the Halfback, #30, Tim Kelley, with a pass to Tight end, #81, Logan Osterman mixed in.  This first series didn't gain many yards for the Bobcats.  Partly due to their nerves and partly due to the stout Spartan defense.  What it did, was to set the tone for the game and let the TAE defense know that they would need to protect both the pass and the run.

football 1015BThe Fearsome Defense

Lansing's punt team took the field and #2, Jared Strait punted the pigskin high and into the wind.  TAE's opening series consisted of three runs for a total of 8 yards, and two penalties for minus ten yards.  Spartan, Corey Garrison, #77, punted the ball just over fifty yards putting it in the end zone for a touchback.

football 1015DWhen #5 Brandon Davis isn't tackling, blocking or running the ball, he is helping coach the team.

The cats took over on their twenty yard line and preceded to drive down the field.  A couple of runs by Kelley, first down.  A pass from Quarterback, #15, Max Jordan, to Lee for a huge, forty yard gain and a first down.  Another pass from Jordan, this time to Osterman for fourteen yards and another first down.  Lansing was clawing their way towards the goal.  Their front line, led by Center, #71 Pat Judd was opening holes, lead blocking and giving Jordan plenty of time to make good passes.  Coach Butler utilized a blend of Full back, #5, Brandon Davis and Kelley to pound the ball into and through the Spartan defenses.

Wounded but not giving up, the Spartans dug in and slowed them down in the red zone.  Fourth and goal, ball on the five yard line, the cats go for it and turn the ball over on downs.  TAE was shaken up by the long drive but regained composure from the big stop so close to the end zone.  They put on a good drive but, Lansing's defense, coordinated by Coach Boothe and led by B. Davis, was pumped up and applied pressure.  The quarter ended with the score tied at zero and TAE having to punt.

Garrison put his foot to work again and punted the ball 42 yards into the hands of Kelley.  Receiving the ball at his 42 yard line, with the aid of his quick legs and several great blocks, he ran it back through the small battalion of Spartans for a 34 yard return.   A few running plays, a couple of passing plays and twenty four yards later Lansing had the first score of the game on a 13 yard rush from the feet of Kelley.  Strait attempted the PAT, (Point After Touchdown), but the ball drifted just wide of the post.  He made up for the missed PAT with a sixty yard kick off for a touchback.  The Spartans opened the series with a thirteen yard run from #9, Jon Jones.  First and ten on their 33 yards line. The center snapped the ball high.  The QB went up for it but couldn't bring it down.  Everyone in the stadium, coaches, players, family members and fans yelled "get the ball."

football 1015F#28 Neal Evener waiting for the snap so he can go out for a pass.

Never fear, #23, Owen Davis, scooped up the ball and delivered it eighteen yards into the end zone for the Bobcats second score of the game.   Half of the crowd cheered and the other half gasped in awe.  Jordan ran the ball from behind the 'Great Wedge of Lansing' for the two point conversion making the score 14-0 in Lansing's favor.  After scoring twice in less than forty seconds the Lansing players thought that it was time to share.  It was the Spartans turn to play offense.  Strait laced another kickoff, this one for fifty yards.  TAE put on an eleven play drive but still ended up having to rely on Garrison's leg and a punt to gain any substantial field position.

Since "Thing 2" was running the ball while on defense, Coach Butler decided to give it to him on offense too.  His first carry gained nothing.  Jordan tossed one to Lee for nine then handed it back to O. Davis for a gain of three and a first down.  Kelley stepped back into the game, rested and ready to go.  Kelley received the dump pass and sprinted down the sideline.  After a thirty yard gain he had the ball stripped from his hands.  Again, half of the fans cheered, the other half gasped.  Still, no fear, his quick thinking teammate, Owen Davis, recovered the rock like it was a practiced part of the old "fumblrooski" trick play.  He pummeled down the field for another sixteen yards where he was finally brought down.

First and ten, eighteen yards from their goal, Jordan puts one in the air for Lee in tight coverage.  Lee goes up and comes down with the ball having the wherewithal to keep his feet inbounds but just short of the end zone.  Jordan finished the drive for the cats with a two yard run and his second TD of the game.  Strait's kick was just wide again, but again he makes up for it with a fifty five yard missile that pins the Spartans behind the twelve yard hash mark.  With fifty six ticks on the dog of a clock, the Spartans begin their drive.  After three rushing plays and a gain of fifteen yards the halftime horn sounds.  Score 20-0, Lansing.

During the extra long halftime, the TAE Spartans celebrated and announced their Homecoming Court with a nicely choreographed affair.  Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, I mean the Bobcats huddle, the team was planning and resting.  They knew that the Spartans would come out refreshed and wanting some revenge.

The teams took the field again with TAE to receive.  Strait launched another kick into Spartan territory, high, and 49 yards.  The kick returner, #6 Josh Cosgrove retrieved the ball, slipped a few tackles and returned it twenty one yards.  After two carries for a loss of two the Spartan QB, Jones, airs one out to #88, Adam Houghtling.  Lansing's Cornerback, #12, Zack Detrick leaped in front of the 6' 2" receiver snagging the ball, denying TAE of yet another pass attempt and putting the Cats twenty hash marks from another six points.  Kelley rushed for eight yards then punched the ball in with a twelve yard reception and his second TD of the day.  Jordan attempted a pass to Lee in the right corner of the end zone for the two point conversion but, the throw was just wide.  With the score at 26-0, just over nine minutes left in the third quarter and several players to develop, Winslow and his crew made many changes.

football 1015E#14 Jesse Craig gaining some yards

football 1015H#84 Austin Edwards pushing his way through the Spartan defense for a first down

Many of the Lansing starters were removed from the field or jumbled into different positions.  The rest of the game was in the good hands of the younger players.  Jordan kick the ball off, sending it flying end over end for 50 yards.  All but deflated. the Spartans went three and out, hardly moving the ball.  After a short punt the Bobcats took over on TAE's thirty two yard line.  For his last pass of the game Jordan threw a nine yarder to Osterman.  #84, Austin Edwards, moved from linebacker to runner back and bulled his way through the Spartan defense, gaining eight yards and a first down.  #14, Jesse Craig, stepped in at halfback and juked his way up the middle for a couple of nice carries.  Edwards carried the rock for another nine yard gain, putting Lansing just shy of the treasured line of scoring.

TAE dug in and pushed the Cats back a few yards but, could not hold them.  Detrick tucked the ball under his arm and sprang into the end zone for another Lansing TD.  Detrick received the snap and Jordan's leg put the ball between the uprights.  Again, Lansing's back up kicker, Jordan, put his all into it and jettisoned the ball fifty four yards.  Craig sprinted down the field and leveled the kick returner that had forty pounds on him.

Leonidas and all of his speeches could not help these Spartans, in this battle.  A couple of nice tackles by #68, Tony Paige, #54, Codey Little and #72, Nate Fleishman, stymied any advances of TAE's back field.  Yet another three and out for the boys in orange.  Edwards, and #10, Jeff Cotterill pounded the ball up the middle for a first down.  #33, Jerry Howser took the helm at fullback and ran over, through and under anyone in his way.  Lee stepped into the revolving door of running backs and fluidly weaved his way thirty six yards through the construction zone of orange defenders.  Breaking four or five tackles, Lee put another six points on the board for the good guys.  Jordan's kick was blocked by the Spartans special team's squad.

football 1015J#33 Jerry Howser running the ball behind lead blocker #14 Jesse Craig

Down by thirty nine points, the Spartans could not get any traction against Boothe's well-prepared defense and gave possession back after another three downs.  Howser trekked up the middle for eight yards where he ran into an orange uniform.  He lowered his shoulder and barreled the linebacker over to tack on an additional five yards.  Second string QB, Detrick blasted a pass to #88 Zack Walker for a thirty two yard gain.  Edwards had another two carries for eight more yards.  This ran the clock almost out.  With second and goal and the ball on the five yard line, Lansing could have tacked on six more points but, today's lesson was over.  The Cats took a knee and shook the ticks off the clock.

Lansing's incredibly tightfisted defense has only allowed its opponents to score thirty two points between them.  That is the lowest in all of section four football.  The defense allowed the Spartans a measly 75 rushing yards and kept them from completing any passes.  Max Jordan completed nine of eleven passes in this game for 144 yards and zero interceptions.  Lansing had 203 yards rushing on thirty nine carries, by ten different running backs.  Their mission was completed.  They were successful on many levels, no one was seriously hurt, and they were victorious.  Final Score 39 - 0, Lansing.

There were many great plays made by everyone on both teams.  The best play called this day, was the one that put the second string players in a position to be successful.   A little success is very contagious and will help keep a person chipping away at the rocks.  Sometimes, just the chance of victory will keep the pick striking until the mountain is moved.

This bizarre band of brothers that call themselves the Bobcats are an impressive squad.  Small in numbers, size and mass but, huge in heart, spirit and determination.  As a team, these young men have  already achieved more than most people will accomplish in a lifetime.  They have positively influenced the lives of many and their journey has only just started.

Coach Winslow and his pride of Bobcats will take on the Waverly Wolverines, Friday, October 17th, at Sobus field in Lansing.  Homecoming night kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

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