Someday, when I’m old and grey, I’ll be sitting in my rocking chair on Christmas morning, watching my grandchildren toss their new football’s around the house.
They’ll stop for a moment, walk over and sit on my lap and ask, “Grampa, what’s the greatest football game you ever saw?”
And I’ll sit back, smile and tell them about a high school team and a championship game they played many years ago.
I’ll tell them about a group of boys from Deep River, Chester, Essex and Old Lyme and how they traveled to New Britain on a cold December morning to try and win the first state football title in school history.
I’ll tell them about how those boys went up against a team that had won three straight state championships and a state record 19 overall.
I’ll tell them about their coach Tim King, who loved those boys as if they were his own, and how he instilled the virtues of respect, hard work, and a never-give-up attitude.
I’ll tell them that the team usually played its home games at Blythe Field in Deep River and how that season’s home opener was played in Old Lyme for the first time in seven decades.
I’ll tell them about the coach’s 90-year old father, George C. King, a World War II veteran, and the coach’s uncle, Tim Keenan, who both played football for Old Lyme High, and how they were on the field at the Old Lyme game for the ceremonial coin toss and were awarded game balls after the victory.
I’ll tell them about a player named Justin Cheverier who could play every position on the field and how he broke the state record for most career tackles in a big win earlier that season.
I’ll tell them about a player named Chris Jean-Pierre who was the team’s quarterback that season and how he played wide receiver his first three years on the team.
I’ll tell them about how bleak things looked for those boys from Deep River, Chester, Essex and Old Lyme as they fell behind by two touchdowns with only a few minutes left in the biggest game of their lives.
I’ll tell them about the crowd of people who came to see those boys play and how loud they cheered when the boys needed them the most.
I’ll tell them about a player named Dan Figuenick who hustled down the field with his team trailing by a touchdown and knocked the ball from the running back’s hands and how the ball bounced to Cheverier to give the team one last chance at victory.
I’ll tell them about Jean-Pierre wanting the ball in his hands on the final play — fourth down and four yards from immortality with only 27 seconds left — and how he took the snap, sprinted left, got a block and drove into the end zone on the final play of his career.
I’ll tell them about the kicker Jared Roche and the holder Matt Sapere and how they got the ball into the air and over the uprights for the winning point in that championship game.
I’ll tell them about the jubilation after the game and the unbridled joy those players and coaches felt and how all those years of blood, sweat and tears were wrapped up in this one championship moment.
I’ll them about the boys’ team bus being escorted by fire trucks when they returned home after the game and how they were led up a hill and to the school where lines of people were waiting to see them.
I’ll tell them about a team that wasn’t the biggest, the fastest or the strongest. But they had the biggest hearts and they loved each other and their coaches as if they were one big family.
I’ll tell them about a team that won every game they played and how they were ranked in the state’s Top 10 Poll for the first time in school history.
I’ll tell them about…VALLEY REGIONAL/OLD LYME 21, ANSONIA 20.
And they’ll believe.