No, I'm not referring to the Duck loss, but that was a sad one too. I'm referring to Brayden's football team's first play-off game in their single elimination tournament to see who competes at Autzen. Given that they only lost one game during their season play, I think we all had expectations that the kids would make it through the play-offs - or at least through the first couple. But this first team we played was a doozy - lots of big and tall players that were up 13-0 on us by the first half. The second half, we turned around and scored two touchdowns, but missed both of our point-after attempts, leaving the game-ending score at 13-12. We were actually making a drive down the field, when one of our throws was intercepted, so it was an especially painful ending.
There were lots of boys with tears. Lots of parents with heavy hearts. It's been a season of many ups and downs for our family and I'm encouraged that Brayden has stuck with it and stayed predominately positive through the season. A week ago, he was awarded "Player of the Day" honors during a Friday night practice and that was especially gratifying to him as he got to be one of the four team captains that walked out on to the field and dealt with the coin toss. This week he made a significant tackle and was very pleased with himself.
Next year, there will be a new coach for the team that Brayden will play on, as this team's coach will move up with his son, who's outgrown this level. Hopefully, Brayden will have done a bit of growing too, both physically and emotionally so that he can step foot on the field feeling like a significantly contributing veteran player. We're very proud of him for doing as much growing as he's already done this year.
As I put up some of the pictures John took of the games this year (he started a Flickr account in order to have them available to the whole team - he's literally taken thousands of pictures of this team....), know that Brayden is #9. In one picture you'll see some good looking college kids - the one holding up 9 fingers is John's college buddy, Aaron - the guy he's been meeting with this year and last - and who rounded up all of his buddies to go wakeboarding in those frigid temps. It totally made Brayden's day to have those guys show up just for him. Also, special thanks to Mom and Dad, Leona, and Travis and Stephanie who've shown up for so many of the games as well. What a great support network that little guy has....