Could this be 'the' game?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A crazy little thought crept into my mind the other day and I can't seem to shake it. Or laugh it off. I believe the Nevada Tigers have a real shot against the Webb City Cardinals on Friday night. Yes, those Cardinals! The same outfit that has won 19 straight -- dating back to 1984, before the current Tiger players were even born -- by a combined score of 670-122. Now, before you dismiss me as just another victim of the hot summer sun, let's take a closer look. First, the Cardinals suffered a tough home loss in a grueling, four-overtime battle against a quality opponent last week. They're battered, bruised, wounded and, possibly, in for a bit of a mental letdown, as well. They will definitely be without their starting quarterback Brayden Drake, a fine athlete who suffered a broken tibia in the Memphis Ridgeway game. Drake's absence will definitely affect their passing game production. They also may be without two starting defensive tackles who were also banged up in the Memphis game. They're vulnerable, at least about as much so as a recent-vintage Webb City team can be. The Cardinals could be just about ripe for a titanic upset. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers parlayed their best performance of the season into a 34-12 whipping -- which could have been worse -- of East Newton last week. They appear to have found a passing game to complement the run. They played relatively mistake-free football with an air of confidence and, most importantly, came out of the game healthy. The Tigers should feel no pressure. Few, if any, expect a win, so they can go out, play loose and let it flow. On the other hand, Webb City is the team with the high expectations, the lofty rankings (second in Class 4), and the storied tradition to live up to. Besides, shouldn't the law of averages catch up sometime? Make no mistake, the Cardinals still have a bunch of well-coached, quality athletes and it will take a super, well-played effort by the Tigers to pull it off. But if the stars are in the proper alignment, the moon is in the right quarter and a spirited home crowd really gets behind this team, it could happen.

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