Legends of the fog
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (Marcusf@thedailytimes.com)
It was the best game no one ever saw.
The fog that arrived in first quarter wisps thickened to the deepest and most impenetrable anyone could recall during a game atop Monteagle Mountain at Sewanee. At times in the third quarter not just the visiting, but the home sideline disappeared from view of the press box. Running backs couldn’t see the linebackers past the line of scrimmage. Players vanished like ghosts passed the far hash for officials.
“I have to commend the officials for running a game like this and letting us do what we needed to do to communicate,” MC coach Mike Rader said.
The sound of a whistle wasn’t just for the players benefit any longer. Listening, watching the official move and players run on and off the sideline in a ghostly exchange of appearing and disappearing figures were the cues for plays and change of possession. Occasionally reappearing players weren’t off before a whistle from the far side but it was impossible to judge for certain. And even if it was the case, the officials on top of the play couldn’t see the sideline to see a signal and their counterparts on the sideline couldn’t see the snap to know if a flag should be thrown.
Players were mere shadows inside the clouds as the direction of the game changed.
No one beyond the field could see the moment where Maryville went ahead. The excitement rippled out via visual relay, spreading slowly in a ragged cheer from the visiting stands that could be heard but not seen by those on the home side.
The idea to go reverse with receiver Blake Williams came from an assistant coach blind to the actual events, stranded as Shaun Hayes was in the box above the home stands. But as the Sewanee assistants vacated their perch for the sideline, Hayes found his moment to do that whole stop-the-remote-with-the-blast-shield-down thing.
“We really kind of stayed calm. In a way it was kind of a good thing. As chaotic as it was down here on the sideline, Hayes could probably sit up there and listen to what was going on and what we were saying they were doing,” Rader said of the play call that turned the mental momentum once and for all in MC’s favor.
The game tapes are just white and gray clouds for minutes at a time as Maryville rallied for that 42-30 victory Saturday. The movement of the sideline official was the only indicator of where the ball might be and the official’s microphone was the only indication of scores and time remaining. Only the players know what happened and that only in their own small individual pockets of reality.
The legends of the fog are all that remain to tell the tale of the Fighting Scots victory in the hanging invisibility — where actions will undoubtedly grow in the retelling but the extent of the blinding nothingness can not be exaggerated. Though I’m sure some will one day try.
Which is fine, a victory like Saturday’s you don’t have to see, just believe.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. You can follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports. He wrote from Sewanee.