Fighting Off the Grim Reaper, Gang Green Gutted-Out a Second-Place
Finish in Madison
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Madison, WI, August 24, 2002 - When all the empty Gatorade bottle, hamstring
wraps, ice packs and Advil bottle were cleared, Gang Green was left standing
with a hard-earned second place finish in the Madison four-on-four flag football
"All of us left everything we had on the field. We played until we literally couldn't play anymore. There was a lot of heart out there. We're proud of these wins," said an exhausted Iron-Man Schlichting.
The day started out bleak as GG came out extremely flat in Game One. Basically, the tone was set when Suks dropped a routine snap putting the team on it's own one. On the next "don't get a safety" snap, GG promptly proceeded to get a safety. After numerous (yes, NUMEROUS) missed tackles by the defense, GG succumbed to the 49ers (and their 70 year old QB) with a 27-19 loss.
Riding the red-hot intensity (and justified game-one-loss steam) of D, GG steam-rolled their next opponents 33-0. GG was able to take advantage of the blowout utilizing numerous offensive formations and personnel (this would come in very handy later in the day). The momentum had swung back to GG.
Game three is where it got interesting (keep in mind, our potential sixth-man had pulled his hammy early in the week at practice). Trailing 6-0, GG took a huge hit when D was lost to a knee injury. The star defender was out. The hits kept coming. A few plays later, Jeffy was seen hobbling back to the huddle with a pulled hammy. He turned for the sideline. Where's Butch was the common thought. After scanning the field, Butch was seen lying on the ground. The victim of another pulled hammy on the same play. Jeffy, seeing the situation, pulled an iron-man of his own and returned to the huddle as Butch took to the sideline. There went the momentum. Obviously flustered, GG called a basic run for Schlichting. After chugging for a dozen yards, Schlichting came-up limping as well. Was this some sort of comedy routine? The next huddle went as follows.
"I can't put any weight on my foot. Jeffy, you'll have to take over" - Craig
"Pat, I guess I have to throw it to you" - Jeff
Something clicked, because GG took a 7-6 lead on the next play. Butch iron-manned (yes, that's a new verb for this team) and joined the defense, which was able to shut out Team "Come on! We're not going to lose to a bunch of paraplegics" for the rest of the game to make it to the semifinals with a 14-6 win.
A hobbling (talk about an understatement) GG faced Team "Minnesota Sucks" in the semis. Playing against only three, GG was able to take advantage of the deep ball (and that's about it). A common huddle in this game was simply... "got anything left?"... "(pant) yeah (pant)"... "okay then, run a fly". GG rode this creative play-calling to earn a birth in the finals with a 19-6 win. The victory was saved on a late game tackle by a hobbling Butch on an interception return and closed shut with a Jeffy sack.
The championship is were all the pulled hammies, lactic acid and pure exhaustion finally caught up with GG. Sukhi pulled himself one-drive into the game and crumbled into pathetic ball of cramped muscles. And, although Schlichting literally wouldn't let GG quit (even when asked by the other team... who were a bunch of pricks), GG got blown-out. The game was still highlighted by the side shuffle-step of Butch at QB, D's one step forward, one step left pass patterns (he also iron-manned it for the finals) and Craig's unbelievable motor. Schlichting, no doubt the tournament MVP, showed something down deep, playing through exhaustion, leading both the offense and defense and truly being the last guy standing.
Final record for GG was 3-2 (yes Craig, 4-2 is you count the bye).
The next few hours were a mix of Sukhi lying in the field not willing to move, lots of cheddar cheese, some creative bathroom techniques and a rousing game of "would you rather." The day was filled with a mixture of frustration, pride and in the end, a lot of humor. Not always sure why, but I'm sure it'll be done again soon. Overall, a tournament like no other.