Big games about big moments, lifetime memories

This weekend was the opening round of the high school playoff football season, and already memories were made that will last a lifetime.

There is nothing more rewarding for a player, coach, or parent than to watch their son or daughter make a big play when it counts the most.

When the game is on the line.

When they come through in the clutch.

No one plans for that instant. It’s the result of years of practice and preparation.

It’s something they will never forget. It’s something they will talk about for years to come, or they will wear out the replay button on their laptop or phone reliving the moment. And they should.

The stories will live on at Christmas gatherings or at class reunions.

There is a thrill, mixed in with some pride, that comes with making that play that is unique.

I have plenty of pictures on my walls at home of when my oldest son hit a game-winning shot in basketball. The moment he released the ball is captured forever on film and is framed for me to gaze at when I stroll through the room. It’s special because I know what happened three seconds later.

There is also a photo of my youngest son being picked up by his teammates after knocking in the game-winning run against a rival high school baseball team. The look of joy and surprise on his face is priceless. The picture told the story of triumph.


There is just something special about those moments. I guess it’s because they don’t happen all the time. Or maybe it’s because the player involved demonstrated strength and rose to the occasion under pressure.

I was fortunate enough to have experienced a couple of fantastic moments when I played, and then got to witness my sons coming through in the clutch, too.

I wish every player could experience that feeling.

Zane Gilley has had that feeling.

The 5-9 junior from Northwest picked off the fourth-down pass, his second of the night, at the five-yard line from Portsmouth quarterback Drew Roe with 1: 35 to play in the game to seal Northwest’ s 21-20 win over the Trojans in the first round of the Division V Region 19 high school playoffs on Saturday at Roy Rogers Field.

“We knew they were going to throw it deep,” Gilley said. “(Roe) threw it up there and my eyes got really big because I saw it coming my way. I jumped up and grabbed it by the goal line. Man, what a great feeling.”

His interception secured the first-ever playoff win in Mohawk history.

And his teammate, Hunter Townsend, got to experience that feeling the play before the interception.

Roe was leading the Trojans to a potential game-winning drive with time winding down in the fourth quarter.

PHS was in the red zone when Roe scrambled to his right on third down. Townsend, a 5-10 senior was on the prowl and closed in on the quarterback.

He made the big play and sacked Roe for a seven-yard loss at the Northwest 22 to force the fourth down.

“He was fast all night long,” Townsend said of Roe. “But he was scrambling, and I was chasing him, and the second he slowed down I knew I had him.”

What a feeling.

Everyone on the team contributed to the win. But those two plays, the sack followed by the interception, will live in the memories of Gilley, Townsend, Crabtree and those close to them forever.

No one, or no circumstance can ever take those memories away.

Two players got to experience that awesome feeling on Saturday. That moment, each one different, yet distinctive and tied together to produce a win for the team.

It was a moment in time when Townsend and Gilley came through in the clutch.

One game produced a lifetime of memories that will last forever for some. That’s what sports are about.

What will next week bring?


Ohio Today

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