The Poteau Game
Before I relate my remembrances of this game let me first say this is according to the mind of an 80 year old man who at times forgets where he parked his car at Wal Mart, a man who can read the first three chapters of a W.E.B. Griffin novel and only then remember that he has already read this book in the past. With that caveat I will tell some of what I remember of that game. In my first year as the Heavener coach we had done reasonable well the first five games of the season. Not so well in the second half of the season, we had tied one game and lost three, now it was time to play Poteau in the final game of the season. Poteau, hated Poteau; they were the bullies of the county. They strutted around looking down on any little team that dared challenge them.
During the game we gave as good as we got, when the half came we were ahead with every expectation of winning the game. We had settled into our half time activities when a knock came on the dressing room door. It was one of the game officials, he said there was a penalty called on the last play of the half and we had to come back out onto the field and give Poteau one more play after they penalized Heavener. “If there was a penalty why did you not tell us while we were still on the field,” I asked.
“Coach you need to get your team on the field now.”
“What was the penalty?” He didn’t answer that question, but he did say, “If you aren’t on the field in two minutes you will forfeit to Poteau.”
We got out onto the field and the chain and down box were gone; the referee said the ball was about here. He then marched off fifteen yards and Poteau was given a down from there. They scored a touchdown. A dejected Heavener team found their way back into the dressing room, all too soon the halftime was over and we were lining up to receive the second half kickoff. Heavener’s backs and ends moved up closer than usual because the Poteau kicker was going to kick into a fierce wind. The kicker got his foot under the ball and virtually kicked it straight up, the ball blew back and a Poteau player gained possession of the ball. After a short conference the official placed the ball on the forty five yard line and signaled first and ten Poteau.
I called time out and asked permission to speak to the referee. I told him, “It should be first and ten Heavener at the spot you have marked.”
“They recovered the kick, so it is first and ten Poteau,” he said.
“If you will look at the ball you can clearly see that you only spotted it five yards from where it was kicked, it is Heavener’s ball first and ten.”
“One of our officials was on the fifty and he saw the ball cross the fifty before the wind blew it back to where it was recovered,” the referee stated. “Poteau’s ball first and ten.”
“I’ve read the rule book too. They did not kick the ball ten yards, it is Heavener’s ball first and ten.”
“Coach, if you are not off the field immediately, I will forfeit the game to Poteau.”
Just after the first half ended I was threatened with forfeiture if I did not get on the field in two minutes, just after the second half started I was threatened with forfeiture if I did not get off the field immediately.
We did not play as well the second half as we had the first, Poteau won by a large margin. Perhaps the thing that galled me the most was with time running out in the fourth quarter Poteau called time out to stop the clock and kick a field goal to pad the already lopsided score. I thought that if I was half the coach I thought I was, our day would come!