The last Senior Monitor said something different. An angry, redheaded boy of 18, the star halfback on the varsity, he was brief but clear. "Try to win," he said, "but for Christ's sake, at least score."
Such concentrated attention on our young team was marvelous for morale. Despite our past ignominy, none of us wanted to let the school down—or to be eaten alive by that redheaded halfback.
Indeed, the next afternoon we took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with rare success. We had one back, a tall, thin boy, who was nervous about physical contact. He hated to be tackled, so he would dash for the sidelines and run out of bounds rather than be hit. But, like all scared rabbits, he was fast, and on this opening series of plays he twice got away for good runs. We also completed a pass, which wasn't our custom. Suddenly we found ourselves on our opponents' 12-yard line with a first down. We were almost certain to score. A score! And if we scored, we would have the lead. The lead! And besides, our opponents might be demoralized by our splendid opening march. We knew a lot about demoralization.
As we came back to the huddle and gathered to hear the play that might take us across the goal line for the first time all year, our quarterback had a thought. He chose to pass it on to the rest of us. To this day it remains the most incredible act of leadership in my memory. What our quarterback said to us on the brink of triumph was both unexpected and original. "Remember," he said, "they haven't had the ball yet."
We all thought about that for a moment. Then he gave us the play. I don't remember what it was, but it went nowhere. Neither did the next three plays. We didn't score, and our opponents took over. We didn't score the whole game, just as always, but they did.
When the One Great Scorer came to write against our name, the mark was zero. Small wonder that the yearbook failed to list our record. We didn't get any cake, either.