Having watched big school football games as I’ve done for over 60 years, there was one thing I knew on Friday when Cold Spring Rocori scored to trail by one point in overtime to the SMB Wolfpack.
What I’d learned long ago by watching BOLD win a state title with a two-point conversion was that Rocori would go for the win, not a tie. BOLD Coach Steve Solem, who just retired last year showed me what any football coach knows.
That is, “When the win is in front of you, you go for it.” Solem did, and he won. So I had no reason to doubt Rocori Coach James Herberg would go for two — two wins it, fail and you lose. Winning coaches just don’t play to tie — they play to win.
But little did I know what would happen when the Spartans trotted up to the line, one point down and the game on the line. In the stands, the family of my good friend Vince LeGare were gathered, dressed in Rocori memorabilia. Vince would have been there, but he passed away last May.
Oh how Vince loved to watch his grandchildren play. He put many miles on the roads across Minnesota just to watch his grandchildren, the children of his daughter Kim, play — whatever the sport.
He got to watch grandson Andrew play basketball and football — but this time, when Andrew took to the field in the Class 4A state championship game, Vince wasn’t there. His wife Darlene was — and what she and her family saw was one of the most amazing moments in Prep Bowl history. And there, in the center of it all, was Andrew Anderson.
The tall, solid Anderson, one of the Rocori basketball team’s talented veterans, was also a captain of the football team. In the stands, his mother Kim said, “I was so nervous.” As the two teams play down to the final seconds, with the Wolfpack leading, 21-14 in overtime, Rocori suddenly scored a touchdown and trailed, 21-20.
I looked up toward the heavens and said, “This is your time Vince. It’s your time.” Rocori quarterback Jake Steil rolled out and looked for a receiver. Suddenly he threw the ball. The familiar sphere headed for the end zone. It headed right for Andrew Anderson.
But there, right along with Andrew was, arguably the state’s best football player, the Wolfpack’s Jalen Suggs. He’d been hobbling the whole second half after a first half injury to his ankle.
Being a gamer, he was still there, giving it his all, hanging with Andrew as the Rocori senior headed for the corner of the end zone. Suddenly quarterback Steil let the pigskin fly. For a moment it appeared as though Suggs would knock the ball down. Both were stretched out, flying through the air.
Then, as though grandpa Vince was guiding the flight of the ball, it escaped the grasp of Suggs and landed squarely in the arms of Andrew Anderson. Rocori had successfully ignited a fuse of excitement no other team in the Prep Bowl could match. They snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. And right there, in the middle of it all was Andrew Anderson.
I met Andrew at the hospital, the day Vince passed away. I told him how proud his grandpa Vince was of him — something he already knew. Now, standing there being interviewed on television, Andrew Anderson was all smiles. I had to believe one of those smiles was for Grandpa Vince.
I looked up again, pointed to the heavens and said, “This one was for you Vince. This one was for you!”
LAUGH A LITTLE: A great fitting suit The fellow was being sold a very cheap suit. “But the left arm is a lot longer than the right arm,” he complained. “That’s why the suit is such a bargain,” the sales clerk explained. “Just cock your left shoulder up a little, like this, and tuck this left lapel under your chin a bit, like this.” “But the right leg is way too short,” argued the customer. “No problem,” the sales clerk answered. “Just keep your right knee bent a little at all times, walk like this, and no one will notice. That’s why this suit is only $30.” Finally, the fellow bought the suit, cocked his left shoulder into the air, tucked the suit’s left lapel under his chin, bent his right knee, and limped out of the store toward his car. Two doctors happened along and noticed him. “Good heavens,” the first doctor said to the second, “look at that poor crippled fellow.” “Yeah,” answered the second doctor. “But doesn’t that suit fit great?”
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Ole Pappy brought me into reality when he said this. I was pretty caught up in wanting the credit for something I’d done. But Ole Pappy made me understand the goal is to get something done — not get the credit. Thanks Ole Pappy!