Tackle Steve Hunt
and Fullback Rick Jensen are named the defensive and offensive players of the
game after the sweet, unexpected opening-game victory over South Haven by the
Vicksburg High School Bulldogs (whose fortunes I followed during the 1976
season). However, nobody is more elated by the victory and his part in it than
Tailback Chip Cree, who may not have gained many yards but who had scored what
proved to be the winning touchdown.
Chip and his
family live in Fulton, a crossroads hamlet six miles east of Vicksburg. His
father Roger operates a service station and garage which is more or less the
community center of that southwestern Michigan village. On the morning after
the Friday night South Haven game, Roger Cree is selling gas, working on cars
and holding forth on the Bulldogs' win to half a dozen sitters and
hangers-about. "I think what it was," says Cree, "was that our kids
were tougher. They just wore them down in the last half. It was one of the best
high school games I've watched, and if you'll pardon my bragging, I think my
boy Chip is the best all-round player on that team."
ago Roger Cree played tackle for a much larger high school than Vicksburg. Now
he is running a little toward fat, but he is still a powerful man. "He is
the strongest man I've ever seen," says Chip admiringly and then adds,
"Rick Jensen may be able to take me, but his old man had better be careful
Like Roger Cree,
Al Jensen is a former tackle, but he played for Vicksburg. He is also large,
also an enthusiastic rooter, also a very proud father. Because Al Jensen thinks
his son Rick, who is a linebacker on defense as well as the team's most
dependable ground-gainer, is clearly the best Vicksburg football player, he is
annoyed by Roger Cree's boasting loudly about his son. Cree reciprocates, and
when the two big, boisterous fathers are carrying on at games, feelings
sometimes get very intense.
Chip works for
his father in the evenings and on weekends, but this Saturday, with full
parental approval, he sleeps late and doesn't come limping in to work until
felt better about anything in my whole life," says Chip of the game.
"It's the best win I've ever been in."
"You got your bell rung pretty good in that second half."
"Man, did I.
I know that guy that got me. I played baseball against him. When I went in, I
got him back."
Mark Brown, the
tall, slender end and punter, is in agony the morning after the game because of
a shot he took when he went up to catch a pass between two defenders. When he
tries to move abruptly or breathe deeply, sharp pains stab him in the chest. On
Monday he is examined for broken ribs, but the report is negative.
Nevertheless, the pain is severe.
Steve Hunt is in
pain on Saturday morning, too, hobbling badly on the ankle he sprained the
night before. He is so handicapped he cannot go to Kalamazoo to look at a
motorcycle he has been thinking about buying, and neither he nor Brown is
permitted to take part in practice at all during the next week.