Tommy Haran shoved his fists into his pockets and stood with the rest of the team, waiting for the coach of the 49ers Flag Football team to call out their positions. Every fall he went through this: his mother’s insistence that he play at least one sport. It wasn’t easy. He wasn’t an athlete. He didn’t quite fit. He was taller than everyone, and bigger too. The wrestling team wanted him, but he’d tried that and had nightmares about the head-holds. Soccer hadn’t worked either; the ball and his feet never liked to connect.
The coach’s mouth was moving. What was that? Center? What does he do? Snap the ball to the quarterback, huh?
At least they’d given him a position, he thought.
“You know, the Center is the first line of defense, kiddo,” his mother told him as they drove around doing errands the next day.
“Mom, you don’t know anything about football.”
“I know, but I looked it up. If Wikipedia says it’s so, you know it’s true.” She was grinning.
Tommy rolled his eyes and decided to do a little bit of research himself. She was right. The Center was also supposed to be one of the most intelligent members of the team.
Okay, he thought, I can do this.
* * *
It was the second to last game of the season. They’d won every game so far, but the Bengals were tough. Really tough. Tommy’s hands were sweaty. Flag football had been fun so far, but he wasn’t so sure about the coach’s plan. He was just starting to fit. He didn’t want to be the reason they lost to the Bengals. He’d never live it down.
“44 . . . 25 . . . 36 . . . Hut!”
The ball. He had the ball.
He ran. He ran and he ran, arms pumping, legs flying.
He could feel them, staring at him, struck dumb for just long enough.
The Center Sneak had worked.
He sailed into the end zone.
The whistle blew and the crowd roared. Tommy Haran had scored the final touchdown. The game was over, and they had won.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but it is a true story for Day 27 of the Creative Writing Challenge.