While most sports reporters sit in the press box on Friday nights, I have always covered the Redskins on the sidelines.
There is a special feel to the game you can’t get anywhere else, and the excitement of some of the most memorable plays is magnified from the perspective of the sideline.
I can still remember Caleb Cline’s strip as if it happened yesterday, and it was not what I was expecting on that play.
Liberal was leading by two, and the Liberal defense had Bishop Carroll pinned deep in their own territory.
I did something I rarely do, I moved to an end zone view because I expected the Redskins might be able to get a safety.
But when the quarterback completed a short pass over the middle, I had the same view the receiver did. There was absolutely no one between him and the end zone 80 yards away.
I was convinced Carroll was about to take the lead, momentum and perhaps the game.
When you are standing where I was, it’s like wearing a bad set of headphones that only one ear works, and the Carroll crowd to my right was cheering loudly.
But No. 15 never gave up, and he finally caught up to the receiver. Again, I thought if he could make the tackle, maybe Liberal’s defense could hold Carroll to a field goal. Instead, Caleb pulled back his right hand and punched the ball. The receiver had no clue Cline was on him, and the ball squirted through the end zone and back to the Redskins.
Those broken headphones suddenly switched. The right side went silent, and the left side burst with excitement.
I then made my way down to the other end, and after a Liberal punt Carroll again had a chance to win with a field goal. Again I headed to the end zone, this time on the north side of the field, and watched as the kick barely missed, and the Redskins held on for the 21-19 win.
The only way to believe in something like that is to be a part of it, and Cline was a key part of the win.
He knows how hard the Redskins worked to compete at the highest level, and he knows what it is like to be in a big-time game wearing the red and black.
He is also in the hallways with the kids.
Cline was a good choice, and he will have to do some heavy sledding to get back to the pinnacle of Class 5A. That’s nothing new to him.
He’s been there, and done that as a player. Now he has a chance to do it as the head coach.