Friday, January 13, 2006

The Wink

It wasn’t much. Even if I had known it was coming I’m not sure how I would have captured the moment with a camera. Nevertheless, it was something I’ll never forget.

The starters for the Montana Class C Eight-Man Championship game were being introduced. Both teams undefeated; the Drummond Trojans vs. the visiting Panthers from Park City. Each team lined up near the middle of the field about 20 yards apart. As each starter was introduced, he would pop out of the lineup, run down to one end and then run the entire length of the lineup, tapping the hand of everyone on his team—kind of like a “low five.” The starter would reach the coaches at the other end and after giving them five, they would run to the center of the field and shake hands with a starting member of the other team. Pretty simple and once you’ve seen this, they all seem the same.

But today there was a subtle difference. Chase Reynolds the starting tailback and middle linebacker for the Drummond Trojans was finally being introduced. Reynolds had been starting in both positions since his sophomore year and earned all state honors all three years. Today would be the last time he was introduced at Drummond’s field in the blue and white of a Trojan uniform.

He ran through the lineup like everyone else. I was positioned near the end of the line by the coaches photographing each starter’s approach. Once my camera’s memory was filled with images, I pulled it away from my eye as he neared the coaches. Now in front of head coach Jim Oberweiser, he clutched the coaches hand for a brief handshake and through his buckled helmet and gridded face-mask gave the coach a pronounced wink of confidence. It was one of those moments where time stood still. I doubt many people saw it. Yet, like a complex artwork that is often interpreted differently by everyone who looks at it—that one wink spoke volumes.

As I saw it, perhaps coach Oberweiser was a typical coach—worried about how the game would turn out no matter how much talent his kids possessed. And there was Reynolds—grown up for the most part now. Well beyond the pure talent of his sophomore year that earned him a starting position. Now there was a sense of seasoning—call it maturity. As a senior he had evolved into the hardened, battle-tested general who had just come from the field and was now heading back into another battle one last time. He had seen it all and his mission was nearly over. With that wink, came a message to his commanding officer, “Don’t worry sir, we’ll get the job done today. It’s business as usual.”

And so it was—business as usual that day. Reynolds and his fellow Trojans marched into the record books—easily disposing of previously undefeated Park City to the tune of 54-0. Two years ago Drummond had won their first state title in football. Not one game was lost between that first title season and the title they claimed against Park City. In fact, they were never seriously challenged during those three seasons—not one game’s outcome was ever in doubt when the Trojans lined-up for their introductions.


Anonymous said...

i live in licoln montana and im in high school and play all sports and Drummond is our biggest rival it is amazing to watch them dispose of all teams in the district- state

Anonymous said...

yah go to hell not one game was in dobt

Makayla Chaffin said...

I know Chase Reynolds. We were so sad when he graduated, but life goes on and so does football. Jim Oberweiser is still the headcoach, and he's also my History teacher. The Drummond Trojans are still undefeated! Every one in Drummond still comes to every home game to cheer on Tyrell, Petey, Brandon, Brandon, Casey, and all the rest. There are at least 40 high school boys playing on the Trojan Football Team. As we head into the play offs, we still remember the spirit of Chase Reynolds and his natural talent for football.

Anonymous said...

This is a fine piece of writing. The word, rich, comes to mind.

And, even though I grew up in Park City many years ago, I wish I had been at the game to see "the wink" in person. After reading this, I almost feel as if I was.

Morgan said...

Thanks for the kind words. As much as we try to plan for all the things that we think will unfold before our eyes, (i.e., myself as a photographer at one of these games) there are those little things that stay with us that we never considered. Such is life...