30. November 2008 · Comments Off on STATE CHAMPIONS! · Categories: General

What a day Friday was! Real Wife was determined to hit the Walmart Black Friday sale, so we were up at 3:00 a.m., resolved to do our part for the economy. Red Haired Girl had been looking forward for weeks to this important first rite of passage, so off we went. RW has been wanting a Wii since we chaperoned RHG’s middle school graduation party last spring. RHG had already done the math and figured that there were other more important things for her final list, so, much to RW’s chagrine, she was not pushing for that. So, in the spirit of Christmas intrigue, we (RHG and I) have been poo pooing the need for a Wii for a couple of weeks. RW is one of the most selfless people I know, and she has been hiding her disappoint like a real trooper.

To give RHG a sense of Black Friday, I assigned her to stand in line for the Wii’s. She performed admirably, panicking only when told that it had to be paid for at the counter. A quick text message to me got that problem resolved. We are now co-conspiritors anxiously awaiting Real Wife’s Christmas surprise.

Normally we get out of the store early and enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast somewhere, but this year we had another mission. Barely an hour after getting home it was time to meet at the local high school for the charter bus to the state championship (class 3A) game at the University of Illinois stadium in Champaigne. Real Wife and I travelled both as fans and as chaperones for the cheerleading squad – in all we took five buses, with literally hundreds of others driving their own vehicles on the four hour trek.

This is only the second year that our school has played in class 3A (about 500 high school students), having recently merged with two other neighbouring districts. Ironically, the largest bloc in opposition to the merger was comprised of the sports fans who found it beyond the pale that former “enemies” should now be on the same team. In fact, our head coach and assistant coach last met in the playoffs at the 2000 state championship while in class 1A, where our school won handily.

The game was a barn burner. DuQuoin, a long time football powerhouse from southern Illinois, has a NCAA Division 1 quarterback prospect, and it was easy to see why. We went into the half down 7-0, having survived two of their drives to less than the five yard line. The second half was nail biter, with our home team down by 14-13 with under a minute to play. Our guys scored what would be the winning touchdown with 25 seconds on the game clock, succeeding with a two point conversion to bring the score to 21-14. On second down of DuQuoin’s possession one of our backs intercepted their pass with 14 seconds remaining. Chaos ensued.

All of the buses and most of the fans who drove stopped at the Home Style buffet before leaving Champaign. Despite having called ahead (we paid for team, cheerleader and band members in advance), it was a cluster**** of epic proportions. After waiting in line – outside – for an hour, RW and I decided to just head back to the bus, whereupon we were told that the driver had gone somewhere else to eat – with the bus. Anyway, 2 1/2 hours later we were on the road again. (BTW, if you are ever in Chapaigne I recommend that buffet – they even had steak fillets!).

Our buses were met at the edge of town at around 1:30 a.m. by firetrucks, ambulances, police cars, and anything else they could muster with a siren, as well as half the town. Everyone formed up in a parade and drove around for awhile before calling it a day a little after two o’clock.

Nobody was from Dallas City, LaHarpe, or Carthage that night – they were all from Illini West.

One final thought. While downloading pictures I noted one in particular that really caught my attention. I took it as the clock ran out, with focal point on the team. On a 10 megapixel camera at about 10X zoom, the image clearly captured the expressions of the Du Quoin fans – a mixture of horror, disbelief, and disappointment. They, after all, had travelled just as hard and long a journey. Nonetheless, the sportsmanship of both their team and their fans was first class. In that spirit I would like to congratulate both the Chargers and the Indians for a job well done.

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