Off the Rim
Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips and a gym make for a fun male bonding experience. But throw in video games, and it becomes the ultimate guy party.
Friday night, I was lucky enough to join the Baldwin High School boy's basketball team for their second-annual "Night of the Dogs." It is basically an overnight team-bonding experience in the BHS gym.
This year coach Heath Cooper decided to throw in a double-elimination video game tournament. The game was NCAA Football 2006.
Cooper and several players brought in their Playstation II game systems, so we had up to five games playing at once.
I was invited because of my experience with the video game, and because I have written about it on occasion.
When I arrived Friday night, one of the first orders of business was setting up the tournament. Cooper drew the bracket, which resembled the NCAA basketball tournament.
We drew names out of a bag to decide seedings and match-ups. I drew a No. 3 seed in the Midwest bracket, the toughest bracket of the four.
I was matched up against BHS sophomore Zach Durr, a worthy, first-round opponent. We were the highlight first-round game, so we played on the projector. Cooper brought his projector down and hooked it up, so we projected the screen on the gym wall for a huge game screen.
I used Virginia Tech and Durr was Texas and, needless to say, I rolled over Durr. I did feel bad for him, because he is a good player, but ran into a tough first-round opponent. I later knocked Durr out of the tournament, handing him his only two losses.
But after my first victory over Durr, I had to play coach Jason Crowder, a top 10 opponent, in the second round. Crowder and I had a battle, with each of us receiving a few breaks from the computer.
I led late in the game, when Crowder threw a pass for a first down to a wide-open receiver ... but a dropped pass secured my victory.
Then my third-round game, or the Elite Eight, came against Cooper, a top five player and champion contender any day.
Cooper and I both play with Virginia Tech, and we both know each other's playing style. His game plan was executed better and he defeated me by two touchdowns, so I was sent into the loser's bracket.
My first loser's bracket game was against Durr, and after beating him I advanced to play senior Ryan Jorgensen. We battled it out in the snow, as he was Tennessee. Jorgensen scored with less than one minute to go to take a seven-point lead.
Then I broke a run with my quarterback, Marcus Vick, and could have scored, but instead I downed my player inside the Tennessee five-yard line. This move shocked everybody, but I knew I couldn't stop his offense, so I couldn't leave 30 seconds on the clock.
Three plays later I threw a touchdown pass and then made the boldest move of the tourney. Instead of kicking the extra point, I attempted a two-point conversion for the win, since my motto was "Go big or go home."
I threw a pass that was caught giving me the lead with two seconds left. The ensuing kickoff ran the clock out, and advancing me to play Cooper one more time.
Once again he shut me down and defeated me handily, knocking me out of the tourney. I was glad it was him who knocked me out, because I do know how good he is at the game. I finished fifth in tournament out of 25 players, so I was content, but not satisfied.
Cooper was then defeated by freshman Sam Beecher, who plays with Texas. Beecher then headed to the title game against freshman Clad Kueffer.
Kueffer had sailed through the tournament flawlessly, and didn't miss a beat when he played Beecher. Kueffer defeated Beecher to take home the title as NCAA Football 2006 Champion. The game ended about 6:15 a.m. and the Bulldogs had practice at 7 a.m. I did hear the practice went really well and the team was let out early, because it practiced so well.
It was impressive to watch Kueffer play with his Florida State Seminole team. I give my hats off to Kueffer, because he was the best Friday night.
There were some other fun games to watch, including a last-second thriller between Beecher and senior Jeremy Wright. With four seconds left, Wright kicked a 54-yard field goal to win 31-28 over Beecher.
Overall, it was a fun night of video games and I felt lucky enough to be invited. Of course, I would have liked to win the tournament, but now I must go back to the drawing board and figure out where I can improve.
Now I must focus my attention to Bulldog basketball and wrestling as action begins Friday. Go Bulldogs.