On Friday Night Lights

Playing for Now

By Travis Stewart

Matt Saracen, feared QB1 of the state champion Dillon Panthers, is about as physically unimpressive as anyone you’ve ever seen.

He’s short. Thin. He sports something between a stutter and a stammer, and his broken-wing throwing motion looks like he’s releasing the ball with collapsible tent poles for arms. All in all, he’s about as imposing as a corn tortilla.

And yet, with zeroes on the clock against rival Arnett Mead and the Panthers trailing by just a point in season one of Friday Night Lights, Saracen, weighing his options between a game-tying extra point and a game-winning two-point conversion, simply smiled.

“We got ’em right where we want ’em,” Saracen told his coach.

No stutter. No hesitancy. No awkwardness. Just Saracen, his coach, and the game, and the very reason why the state of Texas–and now a national audience–has grown to so passionately love this common-man, Joe America pastime that fills stadiums all across our proud plains each Friday night.

Panther head coach Eric Taylor echoed Saracen’s sly smile, called in the play–double-checking with the sophomore signal-caller to make sure he even understood it–and then turned over the fate of the game (and possibly his career, as Slammin’ Sammy Meade suggested1) into the hands of . . .

Well, a corn tortilla with a stutter. That, folks, is what high school football is all about. Matt Saracen, in all of his gangly glory, is the very essence of it.

Despite popular opinion, high school football is not Brian “Smash” Williams. Some of his accompanying plotlines–battling the  …

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