Let me first preface this entire story by saying (for those who don’t actually know me) that I am a somewhat passionate football fan. Although I like to watch most sports, football is my favorite. Each year I wait eagerly for fall, not because of the pumpkin flavored everything and cooler weather, but because fall brings football. And what’s better than that?
But I digress.
Last night was a fierce matchup between my son’s high school, Houston County High (HoCo) and Spalding County (the enemy). Incidentally, for those outside the middle Georgia area, that’s pronounced House-Ton, not Hugh’s Ton like they do in Texas.
But I digress again.
This was an away game to be played at Spalding County in which Griffin is the major city. So far, everything with this story seems perfectly normal. And indeed, I had no inclination as I made the hour long drive up to Griffin that adventure of monumental proportion would ensue.
It started when I drove to the campus of Spalding County High looking for a football game and maybe, just maybe a stadium. Their Jaguars and my Bears were nowhere to be seen. There were no towering lights blazing, no fans cheering, no bands playing. In short, there was no stadium to be found.
Well, maybe it was around that next corner. No. It wasn’t, but there was a young woman jogging down the road. I stopped and asked her where the stadium was.
She was very nice and helpful. She told me it was near the old Coca-Cola plant. I didn’t know where that was. Then she mentioned some other plant that apparently had also closed. I didn’t know where that one was either. We finally got down to actual street names which I found a bit more helpful. She mentioned some street named after a guy. She did warn me that parking was a bit tricky. (By the time I’d made the second turn, I’d forgotten the actually street name, but it was definitely guy-ish.)
So off I went in search of this stadium and this guy sounding street name. Once I was back on the main road, I felt pretty confident in my navigational ability. I had after all, driven through Griffin before and was basically familiar with the city layout. It’s not an overly complicated city design. All I had to do was to find this guy-ish named street, make a left, and find this stadium.
And then I started running into street numbers. I found 4th Street. (I’m not sure where the other 3 went.) There was a giant church where 5th Street should have been and then there was 6th Street. This is the area that I noticed all the people. They were footbally type people. They were gathering for something in the area. I must be getting close.
But there was no stadium to be seen. ANYWHERE!
There wasn’t a sign for a stadium. Not even a make shift sign. Nothing. So I drove a little further thinking maybe I was wrong and I should still hunt for this mysterious street named after a guy.
A couple of blocks later, I made the decision to stop into the AutoZone and ask for additional directions. Those two gentlemen were very nice and told me with a fair amount of conviction that there was no stadium anywhere in the city. They suggested I try Griffin High. There was a stadium there.
Nope. I think I’m trying my luck with the crowd of people around the church. I’m either going to find a football game or a revival. But I knew miracles awaited in that direction. And so I meandered my way through the traffic, turned down 4th Street, and found (created) a parking space on the side of the road. When I asked one of the parents, she confirmed I was headed to the right area. There was indeed a stadium in the area.
I started walking with the crowd. I could hear the bands playing. I could hear the fans. But I still couldn’t see a stadium. Then, I noticed a scoreboard peeking through the trees. Literally peeking through the trees. The stadium was up ahead.
That’s odd. The stadium was basically a city block. And you kinda had to walk down to get to it. And the reason parking is a bit odd was because there was NO designated parking area. This stadium was literally boxed into a standard city block. The semi for our band had to double park on the street corner. Our buses were parked on the sidewalk.
Finally, I found the gate for the visitor entrance, reached in my pocket, and no cash. I remembered it was sitting on my counter at home. Didn’t that just make the adventure even better? I walked back down the block to my truck, headed over to the bank (which I passed earlier), drew out some moolah, then headed back to this city block stadium, and tried to find (create) another parking space.
Once I finally made it into the stadium, I walked over to the concession stand which looked a bit like an oversized plywood outhouse. My request was simply – peanut M&M’s and a coke.
The gentleman working the stand looked at me and said, “You know, I sold the last one of those last week and forgot to get anymore. But I gotta Snickers.”
Let me pause the story here for a moment to explain that I eat a bag of peanut M&Ms at each of our games and going into this game we were 5-0. Some may say that’s a coincidence, but I’m enough of a seasoned sports fan to know you never challenge something like that.
Back to the story, I repeatedly ask him about the candy selection, but no matter how long I inquired, peanut M&Ms never materialized. What the heck was I supposed to now? These people were seriously trying to put a hex on the whole darn game!
Then I got to take a good look at the inside of this stadium. Now, I’ve been to quite a few games over the years and I’ve seen all sorts of stadiums. Some are a lot nicer than others. This stadium was a new one on me. There was no fencing around the perimeter although the trees were pretty thick through there. And those trees were growing right behind the goal posts. I promise you the branches were only a foot or two behind them. There were trees on the other side as well, but I couldn’t see how close those were to those posts.
And behind the tree line, there was the street. I swear after one long PAT, I could hear a car alarm going off in the background.
But I have digressed once again.
When I found a seat in the stands and looked at the scoreboard, I could see it was going to be a long night for my Bears. They were down by a field goal and playing pretty poorly. Our quarterback couldn’t find the broad side of a barn. Both our defensive and offensive lines looked like they’d never played a single game before. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t stop penetration. They were getting walloped.
And I couldn’t help them because I didn’t have any M&Ms.
I ate the Reece’s cups as quickly as I could but soon discovered Reece’s Cups have absolutely no effect on a football game whatsoever. In fact they may have made things a bit worse.
Things were really starting to look bad toward the end of the 2nd quarter. The enemy was ahead 17-0. I knew I had to take drastic measures to get some good luck M&Ms. I went over to the band leaders and found the parent photographer who agreed to buy some peanut M&Ms from the home concession stand. Only official band people were allowed to go over to the home side.
Now, let me just say that if you ever (as an adult fan) tell other adults that your HS team is losing because you haven’t eaten any peanut M&Ms, they will look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Thankfully, I did not let that detour me from my quest.
As soon as I gave her the money, we scored a TD with a 2 pt conversion. And the half was over. Maybe, just maybe things were looking up. But we still had a long way to go. Did we have enough time for the M&Ms to work their magic?
It was the start of the 3rd quarter when I got the bag. There wasn’t a moment to lose. Y’all, I have never eaten a bag of candy so fast in my life. Thank goodness nobody got that event on camera because it was far from ladylike. I’m not even sure I chewed them all.
And miracles started happening on the field. Our QB found a receiver. Then another. The O Line was blocking everybody. HoCo scored a TD. 17-14. We were catching up.
Then the Jags fumbled on the first play after the kickoff. We had the ball on the 25. We scored again. We were up 21-17. The Jags punted with a three and out. Jake Fromm, our wonderful QB ran it in for another TD. We were up by 11. The enemy scored one more TD. (A very questionable one, I might add.) 28-24. All we had to do was run the ball for a 1st down and run out the clock. That last minute was a grueling slugfest pitting warrior against warrior.
And HoCo came out victorious!!
Some people may say that there is a strictly scientific explanation for the drastic turn around HoCo experienced last night. They will say that me eating a bag of M&Ms had nothing whatsoever to do with winning a football game.
Those people are wrong.
It’s all about the M&Ms, baby. And I will continue to support my home team by eating a bag of peanut M&Ms at each game. Next time, I’ll be better prepared with a backup bag just in case the enemy tries to hex us again.
And don’t be surprised if I bring in a 5 pound bag for the Northside game. Lord knows that’ll be a tough one and we’ll need all the peanut miracle power available!