By Del Duduit
This month of October means lots of pumpkins, fall foliage, and warm hot chocolate by a fire. But
it also means high school football playoffs.
It’s a time when memories are made that will last a lifetime.
There is nothing more rewarding for a player, coach, or parent than to watch their son or
daughter make a big play when it counts the most.
When the game is on the line.
When they come through in the clutch.
No one plans for that instant. It’s the result of years of practice and preparation.
It’s something they will never forget. It’s something they will talk about for years to come, or they will wear out the replay button on their laptop or phone reliving the moment. And they should.
The stories will live on at Christmas gatherings or at class reunions.
There is a thrill, mixed in with some pride, that comes with making that play that is unique.
I have pictures on my walls at home of when my oldest son hit a game-winning shot in
basketball. The moment he released the ball is captured forever on film and is framed for me to gaze at when I stroll through the room. It’s special because I know what happened three seconds
There is also a photo of my youngest son being picked up by his teammates after knocking in the
game-winning run against a rival high school baseball team. The look of joy and surprise on the
faces is priceless. The picture told the story of triumph.
There is just something special about those moments. I guess it’s because it doesn’t happen all
the time. Or maybe it’s because the player involved demonstrated strength and rose to the
occasion under pressure.
I was fortunate enough to have experienced a couple of fantastic moments when I played, and
then got to witness my sons coming through in the clutch too.
I wish every player could experience that feeling.
Zane Gilley has had that feeling.
The 5'9" junior from Northwest picked off the fourth-down pass, his second of the night, at the
five-yard line from Portsmouth quarterback, Drew Roe, and galloped 56 yards with 1:35 to play
in the game to seal Northwest’s 21-20 win over the Trojans in the first round of the Division V
Region 19 high school playoffs on Saturday at Roy Rogers Field.
“We knew they were going to throw it deep,” Gilley said. “(Roe) threw it up there and my eyes
got really big because I saw it coming my way. I jumped up and grabbed it by the goal line. Man,
what a great feeling.”
His interception secured the first-ever playoff win in Mohawk history.
And his teammate, Hunter Townsend got to experience that feeling the play before the
Roe was leading the Trojans to a potential game-winning drive with time winding down in the
PHS was in the red zone when Roe scrambled to his right on third down. Townsend, a 5-10
senior was on the prowl and closed in on the quarterback.
He made the big play and sacked Roe for a seven-yard loss at the Northwest 22 to force the
“He was fast all night long,” Townsend said of Roe. “But he was scrambling, and I was chasing
him, and the second he slowed down I knew I had him.”
Northwest Head Coach Bill Crabtree knew the magnitude of that play.
“That was a huge sack at the best time possible,” said Northwest Head Coach Bill Crabtree. “That put Townsend on top of the world.”
What a feeling.
After PHS was flagged for two penalties, it was Gilley’s time to shine.
Everyone on the team contributed to the win. But those two plays, the sack followed by the
interception, will live in the memories of Gilley, Townsend, Crabtree and those close to them
No one, or no circumstance can ever take those memories away. I am glad I was there to witness
If you can ever remember one thing in life -- It's that God loves you. And don't ever forget that or let anyone tell you anything different. It's yours. Keep it close.
What a feeling.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife,
Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his
Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.