The Road to Victory: Football’s playoff run started with early wins

Ashleigh Robinson

“If we win, we’re in!” he yelled out to the field house, his voice stretching way back to the very last row of the stands, through several teens. His heart raced as he looked around the massive gym. In the stands, students were filled with Rider Spirit as they cupped their hands around their mouths, shouting words of praises into the air. To his left, his boys stood with excitement, adrenaline pumping.
They were ready.
Just four hours later at Memorial Stadium, the football game has been postponed. The stands have been partially evacuated, and in the main walkway of the Stadium stand many students and adults stand, all anxiously waiting for the game delay to be over. Murmurs of anticipation for what would become one of Rider’s biggest games of the year floated around the walkway.
It’s thundering, the rays of electricity lighting up the sky almost as brightly as the sun does. Accompanying the lightning is thunder. It shakes the earth and rattles eardrums as the lightning blazes the sky.
The boys can’t play if it’s lightning, but Rider head coach James Garfield “was not worried at all about the weather.”
“I knew the boys would respond no matter what the situation would be,” said Garfield. “We have a plan in place for weather-type situations.”
They didn’t need a plan as the game delay ran out, only setting the kickoff 30 minutes back from its normally scheduled time. Now that it was game time, the boys and fans couldn’t wait to get their heads into the game.
Rider came out with a strong win, beating The Colony with a final score of 24-21. The win, which solidified a playoff slot, thrilled Coach Garfield.
“I was as excited as a kid on Christmas day,” Garfield said. As his first year as head coach, the opportunity to bring a team to the playoffs speaks volumes about his talent as a coach.
“Coach always tells us, ‘Take it one play at a time, one series at a time, one quarter at a time, one half at a time, and one game at a time,’” Junior and linebacker Eddie Speight said. Adding that Garfield is great at inspiring the boys to work hard.
The boys on the football team were also overjoyed when they won the game. They played a hard game, and worked harder to pull a win.
“I felt great. I knew all the hard work and dedication the team put in would pay off,” Speight said.
A strong strategy is in place for the playoff games.
“The team strategy is to maintain the ball on offense and play with a fast tempo,” said Garfield when speaking about Rider football offense. “[With] defense, we want to play fast and physical without breakdowns.”