Nothing quite made sense. TCS had few fans on its sideline. And no adult assistant coaches. Palmquist was handling everything, including the water. Plus, the team had nobody who could come within a toll call of kicking the PAT. TCS botched one kickoff so badly that the ball was actually downed behind the kicker.
It got weirder. At halftime Palmquist offered to forfeit the game to NYOS. "That was just so strange," recalls NYOS volunteer assistant Wayne Alldredge. "Who forfeits with an 18-6 lead?" Maybe Palmquist got cold feet. Or maybe he knew what was coming next. Generally, as a game wears on, ex-players become more ex than players. Soon the Tigers were huffing and puffing like John Goodman chasing a bus. And since they didn't know any running plays (the basic call seemed to be, "O.K., everybody get open"), they were gassed.
NYOS and its 20 players won 26-18, thanks in part to Johnson's zigzag 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. A helmet-to-helmet smack left a dizzy Johnson on his back in the end zone for two minutes. "What would've happened if he'd been seriously hurt?" asks Alldredge. Better question: How did Palmquist think he would get away with the Big Switch?
The next Tuesday a former TCS parent noticed that there was a score for Texas Christian on sixmanfootball.com, the bible of the sport. "Is this a typo?" the parent wrote in, noting that three TCS starters were at his house during the game.
This is where it gets good.
In a letter of semiapology to TCS parents and supporters, Palmquist insisted that he had told NYOS that his team was "banged up," that he wasn't bringing his usual players and that it would be a "pickup game" just "for fun." He said the eight men he suited up were "friends of friends of friends," and "none of them have ever played college ball."
Alldredge replies, "At no time did [Palmquist] mention anything about bringing anybody but high school players."
And ask yourself this: If Palmquist was just playing a pickup game, why did he have the game filmed? Why the uniforms? Why lie to his players?
"No way would I ever put my kids at risk against a bunch of men," says NYOS coach Knetl. "This guy just keeps getting in deeper. He needs a longer shovel."
Proverb 26: Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein. Palmquist was suspended by his league for five games, but he wasn't fired. "My school supports me," he told the Houston Chronicle--possibly because Palmquist is not just the principal and a Bible-study teacher, but he also owns the school. Maybe what he meant was, "I support me."