Alexander and United may get the majority of hype when it comes to high school football in Laredo, but Thursday night’s game between United South and Martin was the best game of the year so far.
This game encompassed everything that makes high school football my favorite sport to watch. I saw young men giving absolutely everything they had for their teammates, their coaches and their family and friends in the stands.
Two plays stand out in my mind. First was the touchdown run by Panthers quarterback Robert Camarillo. The Panthers were trailing 20-17 late in the 4th quarter and were driving. On a 4th down from about midfield, the Tigers were flagged for offsides but the play continued. Camarillo looked down field but couldn’t find an open receiver so he tucked it and ran! As he started to run, you could tell something was wrong! He was running with a limp but still managed to make some great moves. After a couple of great down field blocks he broke into the open field and sprinted towards the goal line! At that moment his knee brace came flying off and his limp increased ten fold! A defender caught him at the five yard line, but he somehow willed his way into the endzone to give the Panthers the lead! He humbly limped back to the 20-yard line, picked up his knee brace, and made his way to the bench. As he reached his teammates he collapsed in exhaustion with one player even trying to pick him up.
The second play was a run by Martin quarterback Luis Deleon. You’ll have to forgive me, I don’t know what down it was, all I know is that it was VERY late in the game, Martin trailed by three and needed a first down. Deleon took the ball and raced down the sideline! Then there was a moment where time must have slowed down for him. He spotted a Panther defender straight ahead and he was forced to make a decision: sidestep out of bounds or take the hit head on and try for the first down. Of course he chose the latter. He lowered his shoulder, extended his arm as far as it would go and took a vicious hit! Like his United South counterpart, Deleon lay motionless on the field for a few minutes after the play. Deleon knew full well the sacrifice he was about to make for his team when he cut up field instead of sidestepping out of bounds, but I’m sure in that split second where he was forced to choose, there was a never a doubt his coaches or his teammates mind about what he would do. He got the first down for his team and the drive continued. Martin drove into field goal range and missed a field goal to tie the game as the clock expired.
It’s sad that someone had to lose a game like this because both teams deserve better. As I watched these events transpire, a quote from Vince Lombardi rang out in my head, “I firmly believe that in any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.