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Old 07-16-2019, 09:32 AM   #1
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The Essence of Glory


Disclaimer: This story will contain characters, events, locations and schools that are a mixture or real and fictitious. I've followed some real life occurrences and altered many others.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:44 AM   #2
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Re: The Essence of Glory

Cade was startled awake by what seemed like the loudest knock on his door he'd ever heard. It took him a moment to realize where he was and remember how he had gotten there.

“Cade honey?” His aunt asked in her southern drawl.

“Yeah?” He replied, almost a groan.

“Ya'll want some breakfast sugar?”

“I'll be down.”

He reached over and picked his well used iPhone up from the end table and stared aimlessly at the screen, not really registering anything it displayed. Each of the usual social media apps indicated a large number of notifications. He hovered his thumb over the one with the smallest number before deciding not to go down that route, instead tossing his phone back on the end table.

After staring at the ceiling and studying the wooden beams Cade slowly sat up in bed before swinging his long legs over the side and onto the somewhat cold hardwood floor. He stood and shuffled over to the pile of clothes on the worn recliner tucked into the corner and pulled on a used up gray tee shirt.

Cade stretched then made his way to the attached bathroom, shielding his eyes from the sunlight poking through the blinds on his way.

He leaned on the vanity and looked at himself in the mirror.

Cade couldn't help but see his mother in his reflection, people had always said how much he looked like her. He couldn't stop the tears. He didn't try.

A few minutes later he wiped his face and turned on the cold water. He let it get good and cold before cupping his hands and scooping it up and splashing it on his face. He did it three times, focusing on the refreshing feeling he got from it.

Eventually he stood straight up and dabbed his face dry. He put down the towel and stretched his neck from side to side before the reflection of the words on his shirt caught his eye.


2010 UIL 1-A SIX MAN CHAMPIONS


He stared for several moments before the smell of pancakes and bacon grabbed his attention and beckoned him. Cade took several deep, cleansing breaths.

"In with the good energy and out with the bad." He whispoered to himself.

He took one last deep breath, exhaled slowly and stared back at his reflection, shaking his head.

He knew what he wanted and needed to do. No more moping around, mom would hate that.

Cade bounced down the stairs, faster than he had moved in a few weeks. He even skipped the last few steps like he had done so many times.

He popped in an old wooden chair at the table and grabbed a stack of pancakes. He plopped them on his plate while grabbing a handful of bacon with his hands, eliciting a look from his aunt, who opened her mouth to correct the behavior but thought better of it.

Cade cleared his throat and spoke.

“Aunt Wanda?”

“Yes dear?”

“I want to go back.” It may well have been the surest he had ever been about something he said.
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Old 07-16-2019, 04:37 PM   #3
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Re: The Essence of Glory

Cade waited impatiently in the small coaches office, his legs were unconsciously bouncing up and down as he thought about what would happen next. He was beyond ready to come back. He wanted desperately to rejoin his teammates, feel that brotherhood with them and go forward in pursuit of a second state championship. He wasn't the least bit interested in being bombarded with questions and well wishes in the locker room as he made his return.

“Let's go, clear out, get out there.” He heard one of the muffled coaches voices through the thin wall.

“We still got like..”

“Get out there!”

Cade heard the outside door open and took a deep breath.

“In with the good energy...” He thought to himself.

He exhaled slowly as the door opened.

“They're all out Cade. All yours. I locked it up.”

“Thanks coach.” Cade replied as he scooped up his bag and made his way into the locker room.

It seemed almost eerie being in the locker room where he had spent so much with his teammates for the past few years. It was far from a big area but the emptiness made it seem cavernous.

Cade spun the dial on the lock to the appropriate numbers and popped the locker open. When he did a few cards and notes fell out, obviously slipped in through the slots in the top of the locker door. He scooped them up hastily and set them on the top shelf for later. When he was ready.

He ran his fingers over a very well worn note that was taped inside the door, lingering on the word mom at the bottom.

He took a deep breath, mumbled to himself then exhaled.

Cade didn't rush getting his gear on, he inspected each piece of equipment, wondering about the battle scars and blemishes. He tried in vain to remember how he had put them there.

His mom was a big fan of the saying “Take time to smell the roses.” She even had a tattoo on her left forearm of a rose and the words “Smell the roses”.

Cade had been trying to do just that. Even as a young teenager Cade was always in a hurry, never taking the time to study the minutia of day to day life.

He ran his fingers over several scars on his silver helmet.

He looked at his left forearm and though how his mother's tattoo might look there.

There was a knock on the door.

“All good Cade?”

“Yes coach, be right out.”

“Take your time.”
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:37 AM   #4
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Re: The Essence of Glory

It was an especially hot and humid day, at least for November. The players were out early getting prepared for their first playoff practice and had broken off into small groups as the coaching staff had not yet joined them on the field. Some stretched, some threw a ball around, others merely stood around chatting.

“Nah man you wrong. NCAA is always better than Madden. Been that way for years.”

“How you even saying that slander with a straight face. **** ain't even got the players real…”

He was cut off mid sentence by one of his teammates smacking him on the chest and pointing at a figure jogging onto the far end of the field.

“Oh ****! Cade’s back?”

Some looked shocked, others smiled and clapped.

“****’s wild man. How you come back from that so soon?” He said while shaking his head.

“Devin said he heard him talking to coach about getting back to routine and all. Doing what his mom would want. Not just giving up or some ****.”

“Thought he'd gone to live with some family over in Southlake?”

“He was but he staying with coach Mack ‘til the season's over now. Said he got unfinished business here.”
Just then they heard a number of whistles blow and the coaching staff waived everyone over to midfield where Cade had joined them.

“Let's go, let's go! Let's see some hustle out here!”

“Cade would like to say a few words before we get practice rolling.”

“Thanks coach.” Cade cleared his throat. “You all know…”

The 6'6” teenager had been a leader for most of his time playing sports, he never had trouble finding the words to motivate or lift the spirits of a teammate. He was the guy you could count on when you needed a rock. Now that he was the one needing rocks he was struggling.

He sighed, grabbed the collar of his tattered practice jersey with both hands and kicked a rock to the side.

“You all know what happened. It’s been crazy hard these past few weeks but I decided I needed to finish out this season. I… we need to win another championship together. My mom would have wanted it that way.” He blurted out, barely pausing between words. A few teammates clapped lightly and coach Mack patted his shoulder pads.

“When we're out here I just want to focus on that. Playing ball. I appreciate everyone of you that have reached out. I’m trying to work my way through this. When I'm here with y'all I just wanna play ball. I just wanna finish this.”

The other players offered fist bumps and words of encouragement. Cade stepped back and allowed the coaches to have the floor.

“Alright gentlemen. Playoffs. This Friday night we got Buckholts. I don't care what y'all heard or seen about them. Forget the records. Forget all that bull****! They, and every other team we gonna play in the playoffs know we're the defending champs and you best believe they laying it all on the line. We can't overlook those guys. Let's get a good week of practice in and handle our business Friday night.” The coaches stepped out of the way.

Cade stepped back to his place in the middle of the group and raised his arm, the rest of the team crowded around him and raised their arm to meet his, or at least as close as they could get.

“Coyotes fight...” Cade shouted.

“NEVER DIE!”
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:39 AM   #5
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Re: The Essence of Glory

“Richland Springs already up big here against Buckholts and not showing any mercy, looking to 45 them on this possession.”

“Powell takes the snap and fakes the quick flick back to Pelletier the center and the Buckholts defense bites hard, they’ve seen a bunch of that play here tonight. Powell has Rodriguez all alone on the sideline and he just dropped a dime! Thirty yards in the air and Rodriguez easily into the end zone to make it 48 to nothin’ and put an end to this Region Four bidistrict round playoff game.”

“Richland Springs was a well oiled machine out there including Cade Powell who we hadn't seen on the field for the Coyotes in a few weeks. Threw for three touchdowns, ran one in and even caught one out there. Didn't seem to have any rust on him tonight after that time away from the team.”

“So Richland will move on and face Jonesboro. A good Jonesboro team who forty-fived Rising Star earlier today. Those two will face off next Friday night in a regional round game.”

“Even though Richland Springs has been a bit out of sorts these past few weeks without Powell now he's back. He's looking like he's on his game and determined to lead them back to another state title. Could be a heck of a run for this team.”

---

“Hell of a game tonight homie.” Rodriguez said in his thick Mexican accent as he held up his fist in Cade’s direction. Cade nodded and bumped fists.

“It's really good to have you back out there, didn't feel right without you running with us.”

“Hell yeah! Felt good to be back out there. I appreciate the love man.”

Cade wasted no time clearing out of the locker room and finding his seat on the bus. He had his headphones in and hat pulled low before he even
hit the beat up seat. He fought back tears as he realized it was the first time his mother hadn’t seen him play in as long as he could remember.

---

“Nah I’m good man, gonna get to bed and hit it early in the morning, you know.”

“You sure man? Teresa's parties are always tight. Primo talent sure to be out.” Erik always got would up talking about parties. He was very animated. Cade sometimes wondered if he was more motivated to win for the sake of winning or because the parties were much better when they did. Either way, he was always after a win.

Cade almost never hit the post game parties but he considered it for a second before realizing all the questions that would inevitably be asked. He held up his hand toward Erik.

“I'm cool, next time.”

“Man if I had a dollar for every…” Erik stopped himself, for once realizing when it wasn't the time to push him.

“Alright, catch you Monday brother.” He turned his attention to the group of guys and girls gathered around his Tahoe and after a brief conversation they piled into vehicles and left.

Cade stood in the parking lot for a few moments, looking over the school and out at the football field. Just taking it all in. Paying closer attention to the details than he ever had. He was startled when someone spoke.

“What's that coach?” He asked, having heard but not comprehended.

“Need a ride?”

“Nah I'm good, be right behind you.” He said, holding up his keys.

Coach Mack nodded and climbed into his pickup.

Cade watched as the taillights went out of sight.

“Smell the roses.” He said to himself as he walked toward the dark, empty football field.
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Old 07-18-2019, 09:30 AM   #6
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Re: The Essence of Glory

“And Pelletier brings down Garcia for a loss of eight and Jonesboro will have to punt again as the Richland Springs defense continues to give them fits”

“Yeah this looked like we could have a battle on our hands after that first quarter when it was tied up at 14 but Jonesboro has had no answer for Powell to Rodriguez since then and the Jonesboro offense can't keep a drive going, haven't been across midfield. We're late into the third quarter and Richland Springs holds a 44-14 lead.”

---

“There's another score for Richland Springs, Tim Tyler on the tough run right up the middle and the kick makes it 52-14. We could be looking at a mercy here if Jonesboro can't get anything going on this next offensive possession because they haven't shown any sign of slowing down Richland.”

---

“Garcia back to pass, quick pressure from Erik Hendricks up the middle. Garcia flings it toward a covered receiver, it's tipped aaaaand it's Richland Springs' Rodriguez coming down with the interception after some bobbling. He’s looking for a block, gets one from Pelletier and now he's got nothing but green grass ahead of him as he makes it 58-14. Richland Springs will kick to make it 60-14 and that's it, ball game. Another mercy rule win for Richland Springs here tonight and they’re on to the quarterfinals against the winner of Calvert and Gustine who play tomorrow.”

“Another dominant performance by Richland Springs with both sides of the ball putting on a clinic. The Coyotes are definitely looking to keep that state championship trophy right where it is.”

---

“Devin Young catches the short pass outside from Powell and spins quickly upfield leaving a Calvert defender tackling air. Young with one man to beat. Oh! Young leaps over Calvert's Jones and he's in for six! Richland Springs has Calvert on the ropes now making it 66-22. Calvert will need to get something done here if they don’t want to get the mercy rule.”

“This Richland Springs team is something special. No flaws that we've seen. They started a bit slow tonight and trailed early on but it’s been all them since. Just rolling here again.”

“Powell takes the snap and Rodriguez is in motion. Hand off to Rodriguez on the sweep left and he's looking to throw. A little razzle dazzle here by the Coyotes offense. Powell wide open on the right sideline and stretches to catch it at the 20. He's in and that’s the game folks. 72-22 Richland Springs and they’re onto next round.”

"So Richland Springs will roll into next week's semi final against Newcastle. Newcastle's having quite a run of their own with a big lead going looking to wrap their game up with a mercy win as well. Be sure to join us again next week for all the UIL 1A six man semi-final action.”
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Old 07-18-2019, 03:16 PM   #7
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Re: The Essence of Glory

“So Newcastle. They put up scores of 52, 75 and 66 so far in the playoffs but they just can't seem to get anything going here today against Richland Springs and they trail 40-8 as we head into halftime here in the UIL 1A Six Man semi final.”

“We've really just seen a Richland Springs team that's doing whatever they want on offense this whole playoff. Powell passing all over everyone, the running game has been on point.”

“Yeah and let's not forget about what the defense has been able to do in keeping some previously very explosive offenses in check with man coverage by Ruben Rodriguez and Devin Young locking onto team's top targets and Erik Hendricks and Henry Pelletier causing a lot of problems rushing the passers then you've got Tim Tyler all over the place from his linebacker position.”

“You don't often see defense quite like this in six man, coach Marlon Mack has been very creative using his 2-1-3 look with the safety, Kelsey Orlando moving all over the place and confusing opposing offenses, not letting them ever be sure what they're really seeing for a defensive scheme.”

“Lot's of talent on the field at all times for Richland and they're not having to sub as much as some teams do. They play eight or nine players most games, at least when they're still games anyway, so that's a testament to their conditioning obviously.”

---

“Powell takes the snap and hands off to Tyler up the middle... OH and Tyler flicks it back to Powell who hits Rodriguez wide open in the endzone! Richland Springs on top 48-8 here in the third quarter.”

---

“Richland Springs offense back out there now midway through the third quarter with a chance to end the game on this possession.”

“Tyler for a gain of eight.”

“Powell hits Young for a gain of nine on the slant for a first down at midfield.”

“Powell with pressure and he's able to spin out of it, rolling to his right and he's got Hendricks at the 15. Throws on the run and hits him in the numbers. Hendricks with a big stiff arm on Newcastle's Davis and he jogs into the endzone for another Richland Springs score and that's it folks.”

“Another mercy win for Richland Springs and they're into the championship next week, looking to repeat as state champs. They'll take on Motley County, a really good team who took down Sterling City 84-36 yesterday.”

“Yeah and just like Richland Springs has Motley's forty-fived all of their playoff opponents as well. Join us here for all the action, should be a good one.”
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Old 07-19-2019, 07:11 AM   #8
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Re: The Essence of Glory

“Cade! Yo Cade!” Devin picked up his pace to try to catch Cade, realizing he couldn't hear him with his headphones in.

Cade had always loved to get out on Sunday afternoons for a long run. The town was even quieter than usual with most everyone hunkered down watching the Cowboys or their team of choice. He felt like he had the town to himself at times like this, no buzz, no distractions, no questions. In a town this small that lives and dies by their high school football that was a rare thing.

It had been a long time since he had taken his run and this time he found himself deeply reflective, even more so than usual. When he passed by places that triggered memories of him and his mother he let the emotions pour over him, not suppressing or ignoring them like he had taught himself to do over the past few months. When he approached the playground that the two had spent so much time at together when he was young Cade nearly turned in before thinking better of it and pushing forward. He reached the northern border of the town, slowed his pace and turned around, spotting Devin and slowing to a stop while popping out his headphones.

“Yo Devin! What's up?”

“Ain't **** man just getting in run and I seen you so I figured I join you. Couldn't catch your lanky *** though. What's good?” Devin crouched and tried to catch his breath.

“Not my fault you’re five foot nothin'” Cade joked as he held out his hand with his thumb and finger about an inch apart. Devin wasn’t five foot but at five seven he was almost a full foot shorter than Cade.

“I'm five nine man!” Devin lied.

Cade laughed and shook his head.

“Walk and talk?” He asked.

Devin nodded. After a few moments of silence Devin spoke up.

“So you staying back here for good man or what?”

“Nah just staying down here for now, just ‘til the end of the season then I'm gonna go back up to Southlake and stay with my Aunt and Uncle.”

“You gonna play for Carroll up there?”

“Yeah, I think so at least. Hopefully.”

“They really good huh?”

“Yeah. Real good.”

“Ain't they got a really good QB right? Hill? He a senior?”

“No, he's a junior right now too.”

“So if you both gonna be there and be seniors what you gonna play? You not riding the bench I hope.”

“I dunno. Gonna talk to the coaches more when I get up there. It’s way different than six man. Would take a while to adjust at QB anyway. Probably receiver I guess.”

“You can play QB there man. You’re good enough to.”

“Thanks Dev, appreciate the confidence. If I had more time I probably could but it's not ideal changing schools and all. I guess we'll see how it plays out, I wanna play but it's not my biggest priority up there. There’s other schools too I guess.”

Cade and Devin jogged in silence for a while before Devin turned off to go back to his house.

“Good talk bro, catch you in the A.M.” Devin said as he turned into his road.

Cade replied with a nod and picked his pace up. He looked around and noticed how nice it was. He stopped short of putting his headphones in, enjoying the silence. He checked the time on his phone and decided on another lap around town.
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