Jack Leiber, The Unlikely High School Football Hero…

Coach Cliff Whitticomb was sitting in his office and he was angry. He had just received and read an edict from his school board that the name ‘ Redskins’’ had to be retired. The decision was made when a First Nations student Kimberly Tooly had complained to the media that the school administration at Beau Vista wouldn’t listen to her complaints. She made it very clear that the name Redskins was racist, insulting and unacceptable. As soon as the media got hold of the story an emergency School board meeting was convened and in a unanimous vote the name was officially suspended. This made all six foot five of Coach Whitticombe angry. He hated all this political correctness. He had been a coach at Beau Vista for fifteen years and nobody had ever complained about the Redskin name before.

It was his second aggravation of the morning, the other was that lippy kid Jack Leiber. Leiber was the backup Quarterback on his football team and he shouldn’t have been. Wayne Legace should have been the backup but the idiot had ripped his ACL and was out for the season. Leiber wanted to play and didn’t even earn his role. According to the new rules of High School sports any student who wanted to be on their High School Sports team had to be allowed to play on the team. No questions asked and no refusals. They also had to be given time on the playing field during a game.

Cliff Whitticombe was for the first time in fifteen years in a position to win his first State Championship. His Quarterback Will DeLoehad played amazing all season and without wanting to give any credit to Leiber, he knew he had helped him figure out plays and defenses. The weird part of Leiber was there was no understanding as to why he joined the team. He was in his last year of High School and had never shown any interest in previous years in playing. He was liked by his fellow players but he never seemed to take things seriously. It was one of the reasons Whitticombe didn’t like him, that and the fact he was always questioning everything the Coach said. Why couldn’t he just shut up and follow orders ?

The only reason that Leiber was the back up Quarterback was that it was the only position that Coach Whitticombe could find for him. He figured he would never be needed and he hadn’t been, until Wayne Legace had ripped his ACL by doing some break dancing moves to impress the team’s cheerleaders.

During practice Whitticombe watched Leiber attempt to throw passes and it was pathetic. He couldn’t hit a target and it was almost laughable. He thanked his lucky stars for Will DeLoe, if he would’ve had to depend on Leiber it would have been game over. He had timed Leiber’s forty yard dash and his Mother could have beaten him in a race.

The Assistant Head Coach on the football team was Ralph Kampton. Ralph was in Whitticombe’s opinion a useful idiot. He was on the team because he had first aid training and he loved football. He had helped keep the players focused and did whatever Whitticombe told him. He had spent a ton of time working with Jack Leiber and in Whitticombe’s mind it was the blind leading the blind. He considered them both useless.

The Championship game against the West Side Marauders was being played at the Auto Stadium which featured seating for ten thousand people. Every ticket had been sold. There were rumours that there would be College scouts present and all the players were psyched. Will DeLoe was fully expecting an offer for a scholarship from a Division One School.

Before the game, Coach Whitticombe gave a rousing pep speech. He talked about the long road the Redmen had taken to the Championship game. When Jack Leiber told him they were no longer the Redmen, the Coach had responded that they would always be Redmen and to just go out and win.

It was a hard fought battle and Will DeLoe could not get loose. With five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Beau Vista was losing thirteen to seven. Will DeLoe took a snap and backed up to pass, two of the West Side Maurader Defensive players smashed into him and Will DeLoe couldn’t move. Coach Whitticombe lost it. He thought it was roughing the passer and the West Side players should have been ejected from the game. He was furious and let his emotions take over. It wasn’t long before he grabbed a referee which led to an immediate expulsion from the game. The starting Quarterback and the Head Coach were both out of the game.

Ralph Kamden was now the acting Head Coach and Jack Leiber was the Quarterback. They met on the sidelines and Jack ran into the huddle. ‘’Okay guys I have a confession to make. You know Frankie Casino Swartz, I bet him three hundred bucks I could stay on the football team all season. You know Abbie Brooks, the Cheerleader, she promised she’d go out with me if I stayed on the football team all season, so I joined the team for the wrong reasons. The thing is I’ve seen how hard you’ve all practiced all season and I want to win this game. Coach Kamden is calling for a sweep to the right. Can we win this game for Will and our crazy Coach Whitticombe. All the guys in the huddle and gave a roar.

For the rest of the game, the Beau Vista team dominated every time they had the ball. At the four yard line, the very slow Jack Leiber rushed into the end zone.

When the defense ran on the field to end the game, they played perfectly and the final score read Beau Vista fourteen, West Side thirteen. Ten thousand people left the stadium satisfied with a great game, and the supporters of Beau Vista were ecstatic.

The trophy for State Champions was presented and Ralph Kamden insisted that Coach Whitticombe accept it. It was an emotional moment for him. He thanked his team, he thanked his family, and he talked about how proud he was to represent Beau Vista. After the speech the league Commissioner came over to congratulate Coach Whitticombe and to tell him he would be suspended for the following season for touching an official.

Jack Leiber ran over to Amy Brooks and set up a date for Saturday Night, and saw Casino Swartz and told him he would meet him in the morning to collect his three hundred dollars. As he was heading to the locker room, a tall man blocked his progress. ‘’Jack Leiber, my name is Rob Barber, I’m the Athletic Director for UCLA, we were impressed with the way you took control of the game and played. We’d be interested in talking with you about a scholarship to come play for the Bruins.’’ Jack thanked him and took his card and promised to call the next day. He did ask one thing ‘’Uh Mr. Barber, would there be any chance for Coach to join the staff?’’ There was a pause. ‘’Unfortunately, the way he grabbed the ref would disqualify him from joining the team.’’ Jack looked at him ‘’I uh was thinking about Coach Kamden.’’ Rob Barber smiled. ‘’Yeah, he did a good job with time control and play calling, maybe we could find him a spot, we’ll talk about it with you when we meet.’’

As Jack was leaving the field as a Champion, he couldn’t help but laugh at the way things worked out. Nobody had thought he could endure Coach Whitticombe, yet sticking it out had resulted in a major change of life. It was proof that sometimes dealing with a Maroon like Coach Whitticombe could have some major benefits.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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