A/N: Before you read this, for you guys that don't know american football, sorry, but you probably won't understand half of this chapter. and for those who knows american football, sorry, I probably butchered the rules lol. Idk how to write this
A crowd of students has gathered outside the school hallways, around the football fields of Midtown High, as loud cheers and shouts reverberated throughout the area. The students at Duncan's high school were cheering on the marching band that was performing in front of them; the cheerleaders were jumping and dancing joyfully, and Duncan could see his own football team enjoying the 'spotlight'.
Duncan was able to observe the entire occurrence. He could see Peter Parker in the marching band, Mary Jane in a cheerleader outfit dancing to her heart's content, Gwen Stacy sitting between other students, seemingly reading a book instead of paying attention to what was in front of her, and Flash Thompson, seemingly sitting down on the corner of the bench, looking quite pissed.
Only Duncan could see what was truly going on as the joy of game night continued to echo throughout the campus. He could tell that the students were here not for the football team, nor to cheer them on to victory, but just to have fun, to relieve the tension of studying practically every day for a month, and this "pep rally" was one way to do so. The activities were what made it enjoyable, regardless of the team's morale. It's almost ironic, given that the seniors on his team desired the "spotlight," despite the fact that they don't have it in the first place.
Duncan could see his fellow teammate, Duncan Matthews, and his girlfriend, Jean Grey, despite the irregularity between the applause and shouts. When he first saw her, he felt a peculiar sensation in his stomach that he hadn't felt before.
Before, he felt compelled to avoid her at all costs. But now? Something inside him felt a sense of familiarity when he saw the girl's face. It wasn't a romantic feeling, but rather one of brotherhood and camaraderie.
The boy couldn't get it out of his head, but he didn't approach her since he knew Duncan Matthews was nuts. Possessive, jealous, and insane. He doesn't appear to be like that at first, but people kept talking about it, whether it was cheerleader gossip or just lunchtime banter, all saying the same thing.
Duncan could see the school they will face tonight as the marching band finished their routine and left the field. It was Standard High, a rival school to Midtown High. While they too were a STEM-focused high school, their football team was much better than Midtown's. The supporters of the Standard High team stood on the opposite side of the stands from Midtown High. Duncan could see their mascot, a narwhal, dancing cheerfully up front, not forgetting to occasionally mock Midtown with a rude gesture.
Tonight, it will be The Narwhals Vs. The Tigers.
The team gathered around Mr. Wilson, who was wearing a simple Midtown Tigers T-Shirt as a form of "uniform". He looked at his boys one by one, as if analyzing their faces and emotions.
"Listen up," he said softly. "Remember the playbook. Defense, defense, defense. Understood?"
Without a second thought, Thompson spoke up. "Coach, I still think that I should—"
"No," Wilson stated emphatically. "The deal was after the fifth week, remember?"
"Then why are we even here?" Thompson questioned the decision. "And what kind of bullshit plan is this? Minimize the fucking embarrassment that we will face tonight?"
"Thompson!" Wilson practically spat at the boy's face. "Curse at me one more time, and you're off the team."
Instead of talking back, the boy just grumbled this time. He looked really pissed right now, as if he wanted to explode.
Seeing this, Duncan also stepped in. "Coach, I think Thompson is right," he said. "Rather than just doing defense and trying to minimize the enemy's point, why can't we just fight back?"
At first, Wilson also doubted his own decision, but ultimately he stood his ground. "Plagmann, I know you want to act, but you're still a freshman. I know you're good at what you're doing, but those guys on the opposite team have two to three years more experience than you."
"Coach, with all due respect." Duncan sighed. "I think you're a shit coach."
The team went quiet after he said that. Duncan, who had always been quiet, suddenly insulted the coach.
"What did you just say?" Coach Wilson frowned deeply.
"You're supposed to be our moral pillar." Duncan continued. "But instead of energizing us, you're demoralizing our team. As a quarterback who's supposed to lead the offense, a demoralized teammate is not going to help us win. Instead of giving us hope, you put us down."
Coach Wilson didn't say anything after that, while all the teammates looked weirdly at Duncan.
Seeing that the coach still didn't back down, Duncan just let out a sigh and sat quietly, watching the game unfold.
As the whistle signaled the start of the third quarter, Duncan was still sitting on the bench, calmly watching the game. As he looked at the scoreboard, he saw that the score was now 0-14, with the Narwhals in the lead.
He looked back towards the stands and saw that the students just watched quietly, seemingly giving up at this point. Almost no cheers were produced from the Midtown stands, but in contrast, the Standard High stands were loud and booming, with their cheerleaders dancing merrily and their mascots moving sporadically.
Besides Duncan, there sat Thompson, who was irritated. He was moving his legs impatiently, staring at the scoreboard.
"There's no hope of winning by the looks of it," he grumbled. "Thanks for standing for me before, by the way."
"Yeah, well, Wilson had a point." Duncan hummed. "We're still freshmen, and we're untested on the fields. So it makes sense he's doubting us."
"Still, this is already hopeless. At least put us in," said Thompson in frustration.
Suddenly, both of them heard a loud whistle. The Narwhals have scored a touchdown again, turning it into a 0-20 game, and not even a couple seconds later, a kick made it a 0-21 game.
"God damnit!" Flash practically shouted. "We're getting humiliated like this!"
The boy then stood up angrily and rushed towards the coach. Duncan could see the boy practically wanting to choke the coach to death, but the coach fought back with words.
Eventually, though, he could see that both of them calmed down, and the coach sighed.
"Fine," he said. "Thompson, Plagmann, you're in."
Duncan's eyes could only widen at the change of mind. He quickly stood up as he reached for his helmet.
"But you better do something, understand?" warned Wilson.
"Oh, we're going to do more than something." Thompson chuckled madly. "If we win this game, I will stuff my sock up your mouth, I swear to God."
"Thompson! Last warning!"
Duncan and the offense team huddled to discuss strategies. He could tell that the seniors and juniors did not really like this, but they had no choice.
"Alright, you might think that this is quite hopeless, but with a little bit of a miracle, we can do this sh*t." Duncan spoke calmly.
"It's 0 to 21," commented one of the juniors.
"I know, that's why we have to work quickly." Duncan said. "We have to trust the defense on this to try to stop the offense of the enemy team once we score."
"Assuming that we scored," another commented.
Duncan hummed. "Look, if you guys want to win, just forget that I'm a freshman, remember that we're here as teammates. Forget your biases towards us, and with luck, we can do this. Understand?"
The boys just nodded.
"Good." Duncan also nodded. "First, I need to see their defenses. Matthews, I'll give it to you; go left, while the rest try to spread the defenses a bit."
Flash then interrupted. "What? What do you mean—"
"Flash, just fucking listen. We'll intentionally give first down here to see how they react. If Matthews can pass through, then it's better."
As the team lined up and the boys were in position, he could hear some laughter from the other side.
"A freshman QB? Are you guys that desperate?" One of them chuckled.
The entire team ignored it, and the referee blew his whistle.
Both teams instantly slammed against each other as the ball was taken by Duncan. He walked back for a few steps, looking at the state of the field. He could see that the line was being spread around as the guards were pushing them apart.
With a feint, Duncan gave the ball to the running back, Matthews, and the boy rushed through the line.
Duncan immediately observed the field again. He watched as the back line quickly rushed towards Matthews to stop his rush. He saw that the defense on the left could hold the line to be separate, but the right wing didn't hold up, and the right wing released the defender so they could catch Matthews.
In an instant, Matthews got tackled, only getting around 4 yards.
Duncan could honestly see where this was going. As the referee blew the whistle and the line reformed, he took a deep breath and shouted a code.
"DC, 15!" he said. "Watch 45!"
The team obeyed him instantly. The line shifted, he saw that the left wing was stronger than the right wing, and Flash was the wide receiver on the right.
As soon as the referee blew the whistle to start the play, Duncan's team flooded the left wing. The ball was given to Duncan, and he stepped back a couple of steps.
He scanned the field and could see Flash running behind the back line from the right wing to the left wing. As soon as he saw this, Duncan threw the ball towards the middle field, just in time as Flash passed through.
The throw was so long that it honestly looks like he just wasted a throw. It was targeting the back line of the enemy team, but when Flash caught the thing, the entire enemy team practically panicked.
The left wing was stopped by the defense, while the back line desperately tried to tackle Flash, but as his nickname suggests, he was fast as fuck.
When Flash crossed the touchdown line, the crowd in Midtown's stand screamed like they had never seen before.
"LET'S FUCKING GOO!!!" Out of adrenaline, Thompson slammed the ball to the ground, shouting like he was some kind of gorilla.
It was now 6-21, and when the ball was kicked again, it was now 7-21.
The time shows that the game was in the 3rd minute of the 3rd quarter, and to Duncan, it was still quite a lot of time.
As soon as he saw the touchdown, Duncan looked at the coach and signaled for a timeout.
Snapping out of his surprise, Wilson quickly signaled the referee for a timeout.
Duncan was once again gathering around the team with the coach. The team was practically excited over that one touchdown from Thompson, and everyone seems to be in a good mood.
"That was amazing, Thompson, Plagmann." The coach straight-up praised them. "Alright, I admit, I've been a bad coach to all of you. Now I'll ask you this? Do you want to win?"
The entire team shouted in agreement.
"Good." Wilson was holding back his excitement. "Defense, you have to hold them down and stop their offense at all costs; if you can get a sack, do it; if you can get the opposing team to fumble, that'll be great. Do not let them score. Do you hear me?"
As Duncan sat on the bench, he could see the defense doing their best. They stalled, pushed, and tried to sack, trying to deflect passes, and it worked. First down, second down, third down, and fourth down, and then the offense team came out.
It was the 10th minute of the third quarter. The offense team formed a line in the middle of the field, facing the enemy team.
Duncan could not use the strategy from the last time, so now he'll not try to make Flash do a long run again; instead, he'll only pass to him to gain yards.
"Dallas, 19!" Duncan shouted, and the line shifted to accommodate the strategy.
As the referee blew the whistle, Duncan took the ball and stepped back a couple of feet away from the line, observing the situation.
He could see that the line had started to slam against each other, and the receivers and running backs began to move.
Duncan then quickly passed the ball to Matthews, who had run past the right wing from the side. The boy quickly catches it, before getting tackled, gaining around 20 yards.
The line moved forward, and it formed again. Duncan could see that Thompson was practically glaring at him, muttering that he should pass the ball to him.
The boy could only chuckle and shake his head. He passed a command again, and the line shifted.
It was the polar opposite of before: the right wing was heavily fortified while the left wing was left bare. When the play started, Duncan took the ball and took a step back.
In an instant, without a warning, Duncan threw the ball towards Thompson, who had just passed the backline by a couple of yards.
The boy jumped high and caught the ball, but the backline caught up to him. Thompson rushed towards the touchdown line, but a man was literally in front of him.
Instead of dodging, Thompson practically rammed at the guy, knocking him down easily. Thompson truly looked like a bull right now, and he passed the touchdown line once again.
The Midtown Stands erupted in cheers, as they couldn't believe what they were witnessing. Their team is actually slowly making a comeback.
It was now 13-21. At first, they were going to kick the ball to get an extra point, but Matthews insisted on getting a two point conversion.
And they did it; as they lined up at the 3-yard line, Matthews slammed through the opposing defense line and stepped into the end zone, scoring two points.
It was now 15–21.
As Duncan rested on the bench, a lot of his teammates patted his back in appreciation. It was only the 11th minute of the 3rd quarter, yet the offense was so quick to score.
"That was amazing." A voice sounded from Duncan's behind. When the boy turned around, he saw a redhead he had been curious about, Jean Grey.
"Yeah, I can't believe it myself." Duncan chuckled, catching his breath a little. "Flash was really good, and those two points from your boyfriend were good too."
"Yeah, he was good." Jean murmured weakly. But then she turned towards him, as if examining his face.
"What?" Duncan asked. "Something on my face?"
"No, no," she said. "Have we... met before?"
"I don't think so." Duncan raised his brow.
"Huh," she simply said. "You look familiar."
"Jean!" a guy suddenly called her. It was Matthews; he had been watching them talk.
"Oh, sorry," she said apologetically, perhaps with a double meaning. "Gotta go."
The girl then walked slowly towards her boyfriend. He could see Matthews frowning deeply at him, which is not a good sign.
Duncan watched as the match started again. It quickly passed into the fourth quarter, and the defense stood strong. The enemy team was quite unlucky this time, as they got the ball just near their endzone, making them back up to a corner.
They tried so hard to pass, and they did it. They got around 30 yards in front.
Duncan quickly noticed that the enemy team was wasting a lot of time. They're trying to stall the game in hopes of winning by the score.
It kept going. They got first down, second down, and third down, but then they walked past the yard line, and it was reset to first down, truly wasting the time.
The offensive line looked nervous as they sat with the time nearing the 10th minute of the fourth quarter.
Eventually, the opposing offensive line fumbled, and the defense team rushed towards the end zone.
After gaining 30 yards, the one carrying the ball got tackled, transferring it to the offensive line.
Everyone looked nervous as Duncan and the boys lined up for offense. They were quite far from the endzone, but based on previous results, this did not prevent them from scoring.
Duncan issued a command as he took a deep breath, and the line shifted.
When the referee blew the whistle, Duncan grabbed the ball and walked away from the offensive line, observing the situation.
He saw that the left wide receiver was open, and he threw at him. The guy managed to barely catch it, and they gained around 15 yards, to the 10-yard line of the enemy team.
The team could see the time, it was now the 12th minute of the final quarter, with less than a minute left until the end of the game.
The entire team felt the pressure, and they could only bear with it.
Seeing this, Duncan issued a command, and the line shifted once again.
The boy took a deep breath and grabbed the ball. When he stepped back, he could see that the defenses of the enemy team had become really aggressive, so instead of passing, he chose the only thing he could think of during this time.
The boy dashed around the offensive line, towards a gap in the left wing. He could see the guards trying to tackle him, but he ignored them and pushed his legs as hard as he could. While he may be cheating by having an advantage over them, he couldn't care less right now.
The boy slammed against the defender and knocked on one of the guards.
7 yards, 6 yards, 5 yards, 4 yards, 3 yards, 2 yards, 1 yard, and a touchdown.
As Duncan entered the endzone, he could hear deafening shouts and cheers from the Midtown stands. He could see the Standard High players dropping to the ground, even though the game still has around 30 seconds left.
His teammates hugged him from all around, celebrating the win, even though time has not yet run out.
But when the ball was kicked, it was now 22-21.
And at that time, Duncan could hear the sound of chains breaking, a sign of ranking up.
When the time clocked down to 0, it was official. Their team had won.
Instead of overly celebrating with the others, he just took off his helmet and sighed in relief. He could see Gwen from afar looking at him in disbelief, and he shrugged at her as if it were an easy thing to do.
Chariot - [III] You are able to read and copy your opponent's fighting style easily.