At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 4)

The cruelty of looking forward on this day of all days! Such historical disaster is surely not a portent of good vibes for the near future. On August 24th in years past, our human race has undergone the eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroying Pompeii (AD 79), the sacking of Rome by German barbarians (410), the capture of Washington D.C. (#RedcoatRetaliation) in 1814, the landfall of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and--in the ultimate disgrace--the 2006 downgrading of Pluto to a dwarf planet, mocking both the periphery of our solar system and Peter Dinklage all in one fell swoop. And getting Dinklage into "angry elf" mode is simply not a good idea.
Certainly there are good and holy moments of August 24 in days of yore (#ThatRhymes). Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti did what so many pitchers failed to do, and that is keep Pete Rose off the base paths, this time by keeping him out of baseball (#WhatAreTheOddsAskGamblingPete). But even a moment like that cleansing the national pastime's colon is balanced out by the designation of the fourth and twentieth of this month being United Nations Day (#OhTheInertia!).

Nonetheless, we look forward, not behind, and an army of Crusaders invades from the land of O'Fallon. Although headed by head coach Blake Markway and not by Richard the Lion-Hearted, the hordes from St. Dominic pose a stout challenge for the Westminster Wildcats, matters of X's and O's that have been prime fodder for the grist mill over a plate of fish and chips (#ScottishArms). We go to the preview.

The offense begins and ends with the running game, as 45 of the Crusaders' total 60 offensive snaps in their upset win over John Burroughs stayed on the ground. The 277 yards were split among four backs, none doing more damage than the rugged Jake Larson. His 21 carries for 127 yards kept the ball out of the hands of the defending Class 3 state champions, and there are few more damaging between the tackles. Then again, that's where the Wildcats' defensive strength gained in potency over the course of their win over St. Mary's, much like the won-over undecided voters in the final week of the Brexit campaign (#ByeByeEU). Keith Beckman and Theo Pardee bring more flavor to the mix, so that's it's not a one-man show, like Penn without Teller. 

The pivot is where the game can turn. Not only did Dominic Demerath score the win with his touchdown pass to Alex Hoff with thirty seconds to play, he is a fine runner. In fact, his roving ability is so maddening and quick, it makes legendary University of Georgia and Minnesota Vikings scrambling man Fran Tarkenton look like an obese buffalo on Quaaludes. Although able to strike at a moment's notice, Demerath simply has to get his completion percentage up from his 4-of-15-for 74 yards stat line to keep Crusader drives moving along and not fizzling out like their namesakes' siege of Tunis in 1270 (#RIPLouisIX). One simply cannot expect two wins in a row with those stat-lines, as lightning simply does not strike twice in the same place.

Unless you believe Jim Trott in the third episode of The Vicar of Dibley.

Jim Trott: "Oh yes, my father was struck twice by lightning."
Hugo Horton: "Oh, how did he feel?"
Jim: "Heavy. We buried him the next day."

The keywords for the Wildcat offense? Protect and advance. Win the turnover battle. Mix the run and pass and keep the ball moving. On a humid afternoon that contends with any steamy day in the Palmetto State (#SouthCarolinaGamecocks), keeping the St. Dom's defense on the field and getting them worn out will only help things.

On defense, the stop troops need to ramp up their containment, as they simply cannot allow Demerath to bust outside and cause havoc. But have faith, because like Rick Astley, the defense will never give us up. Or give up. Whatever. (#CueTheManHimself)

Expect a dogfight. This is not last year's St. Dominic's team that got steamrolled by the Wildcats. Then again, this isn't last week's Wildcats. Improvement coming. Guaranteed.

#PawsUp #ClawsOut #BlueReign

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