Day Four – Game Day
7:30 a.m. – In the words of coach Tom Brown, “It’s game day black! Lets get it going Baby!!!” I am up early to try to get these pictures edited and up on the web. Took a lot of great shots yesterday.
9:05 a.m. – Darin Wagner was a little de-hydrated after yesterday, but head athletic trainer Troy Banse assured me that he is fine and is good to go. We have been so fortunate to not have to deal with any heat-related issues yet. Knock on wood.
10:06 a.m. – The guys are up eating breakfast and taking in a little bit of sun before going back to their rooms to rest and get hydrated.
Peter Haugen told me that there was an article on the game in four different Cancun newspapers yesterday. To put it lightly, this game is the Super Bowl for the Cancun Lagartos and they are expecting a crowd of roughly 2,000 fans. I’m getting jacked thinking about it.
The players have pre-game meetings at 1:30 p.m. before taping at the hotel at 2:30 and loading up the bus.
1:21 p.m. - Coach Baldus is out the door for meetings. Troy Banse is trying to get 40 winks before the storm of players streams into our room looking for tape. I expect it will be a stressful day for our athletic training staff, keeping up with hydration levels is going to be key considering the game time temperature is going to be sunny 85-degrees.
The different position groups will be talking about the game-plan at various locations around the resort for about an hour. The guys are still pretty loose, but the nervous energy doesn’t usually kick in until we get on the bus. The guys realize that, although this is an exhibition game, the Lagartos are going to leave it on the field, and that they have to be focused and ready to play.
1:43 p.m. – Peter Haugen stopped in to tell me that Coach Miguel of the Lagartos relayed a message to him that the game will steamed live at www.deportesTv.com. Coach Haugen says that the team is feeling good and is ready to go today. No health issues, so it should be a great game.
2:37 p.m. – I finally got to take in some sun by the ocean for about 45 minutes. I got whistled aton my way over. Upon looking up I realized that it wasn’t the cute Mexican girl I was hoping, instead, it was Cheeseburger with a smirk on his face. Go figure.
Our hotel room has been bombarded by the players. When I was playing at Gustavus, I always made it a point to stay out of the training room. Training rooms are for hurt and injured people, why would I want to put myself in that atmosphere? It seems that the training room has come to me in Mexico. Jason Cook is getting taped up right now. He said he was feeling a little groggy this morning, but is set to go now.
3:00 p.m. - The bus loads in about 15 minutes and we are taking off for the field. The stadium we are playing has a field-turf surface, so you can add another 10-to-15 degrees to the game-time temperature. I am betting that I will not have internet access at the field, so this will be my last post for a while. Check out the live stream website provided above for coverage of the game.
In the words of Coach Jay Schoenebeck, “It’s a great day to be a Gustie!” Good luck to both the Gusties and Lagartos today. Play hard, play fast, and leave it on the field.
3:48 p.m. – The Gusties have arrived at the stadium. Already there are about 100 fans in the stands. Now its starting to feel like Saturdays in the fall.
The wind is whipping over the field at about 20 mph. This is good because it is keeping the turf cool.
The team is dressing in a room underneath the stands. The Lagartos are dressing outside their cars as they pull up to the stadium. They are pumping it up a little bit with the music over the loud speakers. “The club can’t even handle me right now” is bumping right now.
4:30 p.m. – Eye of the Tiger baby!!! Now we’re getting it going. We are about 30 minutes from kickoff and both squads are in their warm-ups.
4:45 p.m. – I just saw a couple of guys from both teams slip while making cuts. Elliot Herdina told me that the turf is pretty slippery because of how new it is and because of the base rubber pellets. The guys will just have to adjust and concentrate more on their footwork.
The Lagartos have it figured out. They don’t put on their shoulder pads until it is almost kickoff time to try to limit the heat exposure.
5:08 p.m. – That was a great opening ceremony! Both teams stood on their respective hash marks while the drum line played both the Mexican and American National Anthems. The captains from each team carried their home country’s flag to the center of the field in a sign of the two nations coming together. Peter Nyhus performed the ceremonial first kickoff, the first I have ever seen. He has been so instrumental in making this game a reality. The kick itself went about 25 yards, not bad Peter, you and Nancy will have to go out on the beach and practice before your next one.
7:30 p.m. - The Gusties win the Caribbean Bowl 53-0 over the Lagartos. Great atmosphere, great game, and a great day!!! The stands on both sides of the field were packed fans lining the fences on both sides as well. The official gate reached roughly 1, 700. Congrats to all the sponsors and organizers for making this game such a success.
Jeffrey Dubose kicked off the game’s scoring with a three-yard touchdown plunge on a draw play from shotgun. Tom Huepenenbecker added the extra point to give the Gusties a 7-0 lead. On the Lagartos first drive, Dan Opitz picks a pass off and takes in 40 yards to the house, yet it was called back after a block in the back penalty.
Dubose scored his second touchdown of the day on a 15-yard sweep to the left, diving into in the endzone and extending the lead to 14-0 after the extra point. Gustavus went on to take a 21-0 lead after Muresuk Mena caught a three-yard slant from Logan Becker in the second quarter.
Following a blocked punt by Turner Johnson deep in Lagarto territory, Dubose added his third touchdown of the day with a three-yard score to extend the lead to 28-0 following the extra point.
Brad Kluver stopped a potential Lagarto scoring drive with an interception deep in Gustavus territory, and Becker extended the Gustie lead to 34-0 with his second touchdown pass of the game, hitting Elliot Herdina this time with a 63-yard deep ball on a fly up the sidelines. Herdina vowed to not cut his hair until he scored a touchdown after missing the majority of the season last year after suffering an injury. We will see if he counts exhibition games.
Running back Brian Karg broke free on a 20-yard touchdown run for his first score of the game, putting Gustavus up 41-0 after Heupenbecker’s kick. The defense got into the action on the ensuing drive when Mitch Moore scooped and scored a fumble on the Lagarto 20-yard line (47-0). Karg brought the scoring to a close with a 25-yard scamper to bring the game to a final at 53-0.
8:39 p.m. – We are back at the hotel after about an hour of picture taking. We all got to see what it feels like to be a celebrity after the game. I am not kidding, Beau Bachman had a line of about 20 girls waiting for a picture with him. If they wouldn’t have shut the lights down, we might have been at the field until midnight. The Lagartos fans have been outstanding all week, and tonight was a perfect way to cap it off. Never have I felt so close to and welcome by a group of people than I do tonight. Thank you Cancun, thank you Mexico.
At 9:00 p.m. – We are taking off for the fiesta with the Lagartos. It is shaping up to be an awesome night with the guys and coaches from the other team.
9:30 p.m. – We arrived at a sports bar named Papa Bills Stadium in downtown Cancun for the post-game fiesta with the Lagartos. We were served some more fantastic Mexican food at the restaurant, this time it was hand made tortillas with a about six choices of meat and some of the spiciest hot sauce many of us have ever tried. It was great to see the Gusties and Lagartos eating together. Even though a lot of them had just met for the first time today, it seemed to me that these guys had known each other for a long time.
When we were done eating, coach Haugen and the Lagartos coaching staff got up on stage to say a few words and hold the t-shirt exchange. As a gesture of friendship, the Gusties provided the whole Lagarto team with GAC shirts, and the Lagartos provided Gustavus with their shirts.
Athletic Trainer Troy Banse was generous enough to donate his entire athletic training kit to the Lagartos as well. Since the kit is completely furnished, Banse thought the team could see what equipment was needed and how to keep it up to date in the future.
11:40 p.m. – After a great meal with great company, we get back to the hotel and it is about 15 minutes until curfew. I’m getting mixed senses on whether the guys are completely worn out, or too jacked up to sleep. Probably a little bit both.