Revis and I are back with the next installment in our fantastical fantasy football story. We hope you enjoy. I mean, how could you not? Isn’t Fantasy Football all the rage these days?
Not sure what’s going on? This LINK will take you back to the beginning.
The players devoured their stew, with much grumbling, but as Plex had noted earlier while they were complaining about the smell in line, their joint complaint actually seemed to bring them closer. It was outrageous that the dragon had changed up the teams and then even more outrageous that the beast wasn’t giving the new teams ample time to train together. Plus, those teams playing in the first game were at even more of a disadvantage because they wouldn’t have as much time to practice as the other four teams. Perhaps the dragon would rectify that for the remaining games but given Lavalandinarial’s behavior so far the only thing that seemed certain was that the beast would make things continually more difficult.
When the sounds of eating begin to diminish and the conversations grew louder, Coach Sprout stood on one of the tables and called for attention through his cone shaped amplifying device.
“How was lunch?”
There were grunts of acknowledgment and a smattering of appreciative replies but the team didn’t really to commit to any type of response. The coach nodded in a knowing manner and said, “I know it wasn’t exactly what you each would picked for yourselves but my resources have informed me that these meals will put you at an advantage over the other teams. They have everything your bodies need to perform at the highest levels. I think we should test that out, though, so we can all see together if it is true.
“Like the exercises from this morning, this will not be a one-time fix. It will be a slow process that will continue build through the coming days so by the time we reach our final games you will be fitter and healthier. Having seen what you are already capable of, I am, and I’m sure you are as well, excited to see what you will be able to do in those final games.
“So, let’s get back out to the training field and do another round of stretching and then we will split into first and second strings again and do a practice game. It won’t be as effective as a practice game against one of the other teams but it is the best we can do.
Plex scanned the team and saw most of them doing the same, looking from one to the next to see how everyone else was going to react before they did anything themselves. For his own part, Plex was impressed with the craftiness of the gnome. The trick with the smell had been a good one to bring the team together. Hopefully they could take that initial camaraderie back out onto the field and play even better.
Kalant stood up and asked, “Should we expect some more out of position placements in this afternoon’s scrimmages?”
Coach Sprout smiled, a simple upturn at the corner of his lips, as if he had anticipated the question and was pleased that he had known it was coming. “I will not pull you from your positions intentionally, no. I want this practice session to the best mimic of tomorrow’s game that it can be. However, I would hope that, in time, you will see the opportunities to take advantage of the cross position training that we started this morning.”
With that, Coach Sprout jumped down from the table and led the team back to the field. The diminutive gnome showed them a series of stretches that were different than anything Plex had ever seen before. Looking around, he saw that he wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure about this new routine. Still, nobody would speak out against the coach. Plex shuddered as an image of what happened to the minotaur who spoke out flashed into his head again.
Once the stretches were completed, he didn’t feel any more loose than he normally did. While he applauded the gnome’s attempt to build them up gradually, with the first game tomorrow, it might not be the best plan. Any thoughts he might’ve had after that were lost when Coach Sprout began breaking them up into the first and second string teams. To his surprise, he was named as the first string quarterback. Also to his surprise, his new friend Kalant was not named to the first string defense. He wanted to offer words of encouragement to the dejected dwarf, but he had to huddle up with Coach Sprout before he could.
“Because we only have one day to learn plays,” the coach began, “our offense will be pretty basic. It will be the standard inside and outside runs for our running plays. Our passes will be mostly short routes, designed to get the ball out of our quarterback’s hands quickly and hope our receivers can break a tackle so they can turn a small gain into a big one. As the game progresses, and we see how well the offensive line is holding up, we may start taking a few chances down the field. But, we’ll have to wait and see how everything plays out.”
Coach Sprout left them to have a similar talk with the defense. While he was gone, Plex introduced himself to the people in the huddle with him. His offensive line was made up of members of the bigger races. There were two trolls, two ogres, and a minotaur. While it wouldn’t be impossible, it would be a little difficult to see over them downfield. His two main receivers were a fellow elf and a troll. A goblin served as the third receiver. There were two running backs, a minotaur and an orc, plus two tight ends, an ogre and a dwarf.
Since the coach was taking more time with his defensive talk than he had with them, Plex began leading the offense in drills on his own. He had the offensive line do running drills with the backs. Plex had his receivers run routes so he could work on their timing together. There were a few dropped passes at first, but he eventually got into a rhythm with them.
Coach Sprout had finished his talk with the defense, and had also had talks with the second string players too, before getting them set up for their scrimmage. The second string team kicked off first. An orc took a running start, swung its leg, and kicked the ball as hard as it could. The ball traveled five feet through the air before rolling until it came upon a first string player. Plex hoped the first string kicker was much better than that. Otherwise, he’d have to score touchdowns every time because field goals would be out of the question.
The Coach blew his whistle and brought the play to a halt. The gnome conferred with the special teams coach, a smaller minotaur that still towered over the gnome. Then the minotaur jogged onto the field and spoke with the kicker. There was a brief exchange between player and coach and then kicker threw his hands up into the air in an show of exasperation.
The special teams coach left the field and Coach Sprout blew his whistle again. Through his speaker cone he shouted, “Let’s do it again. We won’t get a do-over in a game but as this is just practice I’m going to stop the play and ask for things to be redone from time to time.”
He blew his whistle and the second string kicking side lined up again. The Coach blew again and the kicker ran up and crushed the football. It sailed over the heads of the receiving team to bounce near the ten yard line. There it bobbled up and around a little before settling near the one yard line.
A mad scramble ensued as the running back picked up the ball and tried to carry it forward. A pair of trolls created a wall for the runner to gain a few yards but then a goblin pushed passed a smaller dwarf and dove at the runner’s legs to trip him up. Plex went out onto the field with his offensive line to start his first down near the ten yard line.
He did a quick huddle and said, “Okay, let’s start with a running play to see if we can push forward a few more yards.” He briefly described the play he wanted to run and his teammates nodded their understanding.
As they broke from the huddle, however, Coach Sprout blew his whistle again and this time ran onto the field himself. “Wait, wait. Here, let’s look at this for a moment.”
The gnome held a bundle of parchments in his hand. The huddle formed again, with Coach Sprout in the middle right in front of Plex. The coach quickly explained that he’d had an assistant draw up some of the plays they’d worked on and he was going to be calling the plays he wanted run for each down. They would get a chance to study the plays later but for now he would just join the huddle to show them which one he wanted run.
Plex groaned internally. If Coach Sprout halted play between every day this scrimmage was going to take forever. Plus, it seemed overly complicated since there was no way they were going to have time to memorize them all by the call signs the coach had written across the top before tomorrow’s game. He decided it was worth speaking up and asked, “Coach, are you sure this is a good use of time for today?”
“I understand your concern,” Coach Sprout responded, once again showing that little smile that Plex was certain meant the gnome had guessed the question and who would ask it ahead of time. “I know this will be a struggle for tomorrow’s game but I’m not just interested in tomorrow’s game. Like the exercises and everything else we are working on, I’m making sure we become better than our opponents over the course of all our games. Our disorganization tomorrow may mean we lose but I assure you, if you will all trust me, that we will be victorious in the end.”
Plex nodded his understanding and Coach Sprout continued, “Okay, so for this first down let’s try to catch the defense off by setting up like we are going to do a throw but then doing a run.” He started to flip through the parchments. “We ran this play earlier without much success but I think it will work better this time.”