Fear of Friday Night Lights

Momservation: Behind every football player is a mother one play away from tackling the jerk who hurt her baby.

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I’m a wreck.

I haven’t been this combination of excited and scared since I was a little kid squished between my mom and grandma on Pirates of the Caribbean with the skull warning me “Dead men tell no tales” as a tranquil water ride suddenly descended down a waterfall into a pitch black tunnel.

Tonight my son Logan, a senior at Rio Americano, will be starting in his last first football game of high school as an outside linebacker.

And tight end.

Logan Wheeler #23 Rio Americano

And kicker.

And punter.

And back-up quarterback.

As a lifetime football fan (who finally gave up on the Chargers when they moved to LA and will now be rooting for Jake Browning and the Washington Huskies) it’s exhilarating to see my son be such a valuable part of the team.

As a mother who still has to suppress the instinct to wrap her children in bubble wrap while slathering them with sunscreen, it is absolutely terrifying.

I want to see my baby execute the perfect pass rush and tackle the quarterback for a loss. I don’t want to see him on the bottom of a linemen dog-pile hoping his knee isn’t twisted beneath him.

Logan Wheeler #23 kicking 1 of 3 40+ yd field goals in one game (2016)

I want to see my Labrador puppy of a young man use that crazy energy he has always had to reel in one-handed catches, break tackles, and drag opposing players with him to a touchdown. I don’t want to hear the cringing smack of a helmet to helmet hit and watch him crumble to the ground.

I want to see the coach sub in my bearded boy who sees the field with a keen eye as QB to run a goal-line option play for a stand-up touchdown. I don’t want to see him on the field for nearly an entire game risking injury due to fatigue.

I want to watch my former soccer star now kick 60 yd touch backs and 45 yard field goals with room to spare. I want to whoop with pride when I watch him kick a 50 yd punts with a 4 ½ second hang time. But I can barely watch when he also makes the tackle on his own kicks worried that every play could end any chance to kick at the next level.

I swell with pride at my son’s leadership skills when I hear his new coach, Sammy Stroughter, who was a star PAC-10 collegiate and NFL veteran, say my son is the heartbeat of the football team. But as I spot my son on the field by the precautionary knee braces he wears on each knee, I wonder: At what cost?

So as I sit here vibrating with nervous energy and excitement thinking about that 7:30 kick-off tonight that I hope sails out of the end zone, I feel like I am again that wide-eyed little kid holding my grandma’s hand while burying myself into my mom’s side. Despite the dark, foreboding danger lurking around every bend the ride is fantastic and exhilarating. Once it’s over, you forget the scary part and just want to do it again.

Go get ‘em Rio Raiders. Have fun and get ‘er done, Little Loganberry under those Friday Night Lights. You’ll never go this way again, so enjoy these last days with your band of brothers. Make Momma proud.

Just don’t get hurt.

#FridayNightLights  #LoganWheeler23   #RioRaiders

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