It's clear during pregame drills that Brown has underestimated Trinity Christian. The Trojans, in beautiful new uniforms that gleam under the tall lights, have suited up 40 boys. They also have seven full-time coaches, while Giddings has only Brown and Ward and a volunteer assistant. The Trojans look big and strong and fast. They run a sophisticated pro-style offense with multiple sets, and they throw their bodies at the ball with kamikaze zeal. The Giddings boys, on the other hand, are so excited that many seem on the verge of hyperventilating. In the past they may have used aggression to get their way, but tonight they don't seem tough at all. Some look like scared children.
As soon as the Trinity Christian chorale finishes the national anthem, Ward draws his boys around him in a tight circle. "Y'all ready to have some fun?" he bellows in a big preacher's voice.
"Yessuh!" comes the loud reply.
"How do you have fun?"
"Hee hahr!" Hit hard, it seems they're saying.
"What's the only way to have some fun?"
Giddings's Hayes returns the opening kickoff to his own 46-yard line. It's a dazzling run, but his jersey is ripped to pieces as he's brought to the ground. "Go get me a shirt for Richard!" Brown yells to no one in particular. "Go to the bus. Our bag with extra equipment is on the bus."
In the stands Lynda Smith, Giddings's assistant superintendent, comes to her feet, and she ventures down to the sideline to help. Brown instructs one of his few reserve players to remove his jersey, and the coach gives the shirt to Hayes, who puts it on and runs back onto the field. The shirtless boy stands in shoulder pads with his skinny arms crossed at his waist. His lower lip trembles, and it seems he's about to cry. "Do it for the team," somebody tells him. But the boy, denuded, answers, "Coach took my shirt," and shakes his head unhappily.
When the bag of extra equipment cannot be found—turns out it was accidentally left behind at Giddings—Smith gives the shreds of Hayes's jersey to one of the mothers in the stands, and she starts patching it back together with a needle and thread and ankle tape. Then tailback Eddie Gray has his jersey torn off his back. "It looks like I'll have to run to Wal-Mart to pick up some new shirts," Smith says. "The way things are going, I think we'll need them."