For one season -- the first autumn I was out of college -- I covered high school football for a weekly newspaper in Columbus, Wis. By "covering," I mean I wrote the stories and took the pictures. Heck, I even put the paper together at the publishing plant, where we were using "cold type" and paste boards.
I enjoyed the challenge. My methodology was this: Game-night was all about getting the photos, and I used my memory, write-ups in the Saturday daily newspapers out of Madison, Wis., and my meetings the following Monday with the football coaches in Columbus (and also in Rio and Fall River, neighboring communities we also covered) to assemble the information I'd need to prepare a game story that would appear in the Journal-Republican (now called simply the Journal) three days later.
That experience came to mind last Friday, when I photographed the Manual High School homecoming game in Indianapolis, which Manual won, 24-18 over Arlington High School. While I wasn't needing to meet publication or deadline obligations for any traditional media, I was there to get something for this blog. Unfortunately, I didn't have the decades-old backup of other media and a Monday afternoon conference with the coach to verify facts. Just my memory. And on this occasion, the memory let me down.
In my initial blog post, I said Manual defender Diontae Twitty's key pass deflection came on a fourth down play. After finally getting a chance to review my full body of game photos at leisure yesterday, I realized Twitty's play came on second down, not fourth. However, my memory wasn't so bad entirely. That's because two downs later, on the real fourth-and-goal play, Twitty's teammate Demetric Mounds did the very same thing -- deflected a pass out of the hands of a different Arlington receiver. In fact, Mounds -- who had returned an Arlington kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter -- almost intercepted the ball, even though he didn't need to, because as a fourth-down play, the Redskins would have taken over possession. Plus, there were only 20 seconds in the game, and the Golden Knights had no timeouts left, so the Redskins could easily run down the clock.
So it was Mounds' play that sealed the Redskins' victory. I updated the original post to get the sequence straight. While Twitty's play certainly qualifies as crucial, Mounds' was the "decisive."
In the spirit of accuracy, I felt I owed that explanation in a separate post, so here it is. The nice thing about it is that I also have pictures from Mounds' defensive play, so ... I present those in this post, leading off (top) with the moment Mounds reached the ball.
A full gallery of images from the game can be found at my site at SmugMug.
Above and below: The fourth-down play starts with this pass heading toward the intended Golden Knights' receiver (29) as the Redskins' Demetric Mounds approaches from the left. The third photo in the sequence -- leading off this post (top) -- has Mounds positioned perfectly for the interception ...
Above and next four below: ... but the ball slips through Mounds' hands, slowing the ball's speed and slightly changing its flight path. So now, all the ball has to do is hit the ground, and the Redskins' victory will be clinched. The Arlington receiver makes a valiant try to alter his course and snag the sinking pass before it reaches the turf ... to no avail.
Above: Moments after the incomplete pass, players and coaches celebrate.