A victory, but perhaps a major loss in the process.
The drama started before the game. I finished giving the team my pre-game speech, and it was time for my DC to carry on his tradition of headbutting a telephone pole to really get the players motivated. Instead, he instructed the defensive players to follow him to the parking lot for a "team building" exercise. I was on the field with the offense and couldn't hear what was happening, but I saw him stand up on top of the trunk of his white Chrysler LeBaron convertible and the players gathered below. He then turned his back to them, crossed his arms over his chest and then did that falling backwards thing that people do at corporate retreats. The problem is that he's about 5'9 230 (a very solid 230, but 230 nonetheless) and these are 9 and 10 year old kids. So not surprisingly, he crashed right through them and hit the asphalt.
His head was gashed open in the back, and he was bleeding profusely. His forearm appeared to be broken. Someone called an ambulance, but when they got there, he was so adamant about coaching the game that it took about 5 of us to hold him down while they sedated him (it took 3 shots) and took him to the hospital. By some miracle, none of the players were injured.
Once the game started, our defense was clearly shaken up and was a complete disaster without their leader there. We were up 14-12 at halftime, but the other team had two scores on five plays, whereas my offense chewed up much of the first two quarters on methodical marches down the field. During halftime I fired the parent who volunteered to coach the D after my DC got injured and told him to stick to the bleachers. That didn't help. We traded scores at the beginning of the third quarter, and then near the end of the third quarter we scored again and converted the extra point to go up 27-18, but I knew we were gassed on offense and would lose if our defense couldn't get its act together.
At that point, the Piccolo player came up to me. As I was in the process of shooing him off and telling him to get the hell away from me, he noted that, by rule, the clock continues to run after defensive penalties until the last 2 minutes of the half. Thus, he suggested an "offside on every down" strategy under which we would jump offside on every play when the other team had the ball once there was a running clock. He pointed out that it would take a good 30-45 seconds after each offsides for the offense to get reset, so we could effectively kill the clock and prevent them from getting two possessions.
It was a stroke of genius. The piccolo player agreed to be the player to jump offside on every play (also, none of the other kids were intellectually capable of understanding the strategy). We were able to stop them for a 6 yard gain on the first play so the strategy could be implemented immediately. For every play after that, right before their offense would snap the ball, the piccolo player would jump offside. I would then berate him and express dismay to the refs about the fact that the rules required me to play him for a continuous quarter. After about the 5th time the other coach wised up to what was happening and started to realize there was no way they could come back if we kept doing that. He started lobbying the refs to stop the clock but I (with the piccolo player’s help) directed them to the exact provision in the rulebook, and they agreed the clock had to keep running.
By the time they got inside the 20, the game was almost over. They ended up scoring with about 30 seconds left, so we were just able to kneel it a couple of times and escape with a 27-25 victory. I got a Gatorade bath, and we carried the piccolo player off the field on our shoulders. I gave him the game ball and told him to savor it, because when's the last time anyone got carried out of an orchestra hall or whatever the hell they call it on someone's shoulders?
The coach of the opposing team, several parents, and the assistant to the league director angrily confronted me and said I should be ashamed of myself for exploiting a technicality to win a youth FB game. The assistant to the league director also told me they were looking into the pre-game incident with my DC and that there could be "repercussions," including a suspension, if they determine following a hearing that he had endangered players. Given what I saw tonight, if we lose him, we could be in very big trouble.
But those are concerns for another day. The good news is that my DC's injuries were limited to a laceration that had to be stitched, a mild concussion, and a broken arm. He was discharged after the game and we are doing celebratory shots of Fireball at Beef's right now.