Depending on your mission the jungle can be a passing experience or a brutal graveyard. My senior year I was back at Ellender Memorial. Due to my expediate exit from Cali.
I finished my junior year at Ellender, and was there for spring training. This was when I took back my starting position at wide receiver. I wasn’t the fastest on the team, and the skill pool was so deep I didn’t have to do everything. I could concentrate on being just a wide receiver.
Our spring game was against Amite High. They would go ahead and win the state championship in 3A, and with good reason. Nobody on that team was under 25. Standing on the field with these grown men with full Rick Ross beards, and Super Maro Brother mustaches I knew it was going to be a long night. Plus these was country boys, some real cornbread-fed country boys.
So, it was no surprise that we found ourselves down by 35 to nothing in the 4th quarter. Our offense could baraly move the ball. I did catch a 15 yard post, I was hit so hard, I thought I was shot. The next couple plays we went backwards.
Defense started to clamp down after the 5th touchdown. They was definitely overpowered, and I was surpise we wasn’t down 70 to 0.
But call me crazy, I felt like my team wasn’t giving it their all, and I let it be known. Most of the seniors was all-district, all-regional, and one or two was all-staters. I knew they was good. I walked up and down the sidelines looking at the so-called stars of the team. I wasn’t a star, what I did in Cali. don’t count in the boot, that’s just the way it is. You make your name in the mud or the swamp in Louisiana.
I’m booting everybody up and shaking my head, and I ask how are they going to hold their head up tomorrow at school after you told everybody at the pep rally we was coming up here to beat these people instead of geting your ass whipped. They said I was getting my ass whipped too. I said true, but at least I’ll be able to say I scored a touchdown.
They laughed at me, our offense only got pass the 50 yard line once in the game. Our next offensive possession, I took the punt, made a couple people miss, and headed to the toouchdown, I hit the sideline, and running for my life when I was hit. The hit changed my momentum from forward motion to sideways motion.
I landed almost to the track pass the bench. Instead of spooking me, it made me extremely excited, that was the longest play of the game.
We would start pass the 50 for the first time this game. That sparked something in the offense because my running backs was actually hitting the hole and the line was blocking. I caught another 15 yard post, and we was close to the end zone.
Coach called my play, it’s called Waggle, and I run a post-corner. when I went into the post the cornerback was all over me, I had already caught 3 posts on him that game., but this wasn’t a post. So when the cornerback and safety jumped the post route,
Kenny, my QB pumped the post route and threw the corner route. When the defenders looked to the corner of the end zone I was racing to the corner for the ball. After I caught the ball in the end zone, I ran out the end zone to do my dance.
We lost that game 35 to 14. My running back wasn’t going to let me shine on my own, and raced for a 60 yard touchdown. If we had another quarter we could have won that game.
It showed us that we was contenders in the state, and to prove that point we was ranked #6 in 4A when the season started. That year I only had one goal, and that was to do my dance, but I couldn’t do my dance unless I scored a touchdown.
We was undefeated going into the game with our cross town catholic rivals, who threathen to give us our first lost. The game was a close one and kept going back and forth. In the 4th quarter we was tied, but threathening to take the lead again.
Kenny threw me a post, but the free safety read the play and intercepted the ball, when I made a play on him the cornerback flipped me in the air. I landed in the end zone.
As I was on the ground I heard somebody calling my name, I looked over to the stands and one of our other rivals was yelling don’t worry about it you’ll get’em next year. Then said, oh, you’re a senior, and started laughing.
I got off the ground went to the sidelines and watched the defense give up a touchdown. For some reason they went for 2 and the defense stopped them. We got the ball back, and I tell everybody we will not lose this game.
I was getting double teamed, but you can’t double everybody. The running back started catching the ball out the backfield, and we was moving the ball, but time was on our side.
4th down came and coach called the waggle play, it was now or never. I ran my route, and the corner was wide open, I came out the post and Kenny overthrew me to the corner. The ball clearly was going out the back of the end zone.
All I could think of doing was running as fast as I could, keep my feet in bounds and reach for the ball. I was at the corner, my feet pointed in a V, went up on my tip-toes and stretched with everything I had, I came down with the ball.
The same rival was standing right there. I showed him the ball before I did my dance. The extra point was good and we escaped our first lost. I was player of the week, and gave my first newspaper interview.
After that game I was given the nickname Prime Time. I didn’t like that name at first because that was somebody else’s name, but it grew on me.
Never think in the jungle that since all is clear ahead that everything is alright. Cliffs, crags and bluffs can appear and you can plummet to your death.
This sudden drop happen when the coach from ST called my coach and told him I was living out of district and if I didn’t come play for ST he was going to report me.
Coach asked me did I want to fightthis, and I told him to strap up. We fought and we lost. When I transferred schools, I used my auntie’s address, but my grandmother was my guardian.
I lost my eligibility and we had to forfeit all our wins. We still made the playoffs because we had enough district wins without me. We had to play Capitol of Baton Rouge, and though they was big, we was at home, and never lost a home game that season.
My replacement dropped too many passes, including the game winning touchdown. When he dropped that pass everybody looked at me like it was my fault he dropped the pass.
In a sense it was my fault, if I had been there the game would have never been close.
We would have had to play Salmen in the Superdome for the championship. The cornerback that would have guarded me went to U.S.L. with me, and though he was physical, he was too small, and not fast enough.
However, to get to that point we would have had to play John Curtis in the semifinals. John Curtis beat Ellender the year before, when I was in Cali. dodging bullets.
Even in the jungle its hard to tell the jungle from the trees, and to live and die in LA, not the city of angels, but the state where the oppressive is impressive. It is not the place to be, but we normally have to find out the hard way.
They may have erased my stats from the books, but you can’t erase my actions on film, and colleges still wanted the little kid that could get into the end zone and do his dance.
Categories: Eyba Brown