195 Chapter 195: Sports -En Garde (2)

[General POV]

In a sports centre 5 miles away from Palisades High School, a fencing match had entered its white hot stage. Manny Delgado needed to win the match for him to participate in the finals which will be conducted later in the afternoon.

Jay and Gloria, Mitch and Lily, and also all of the Dunphy's except for Alex were in the front row of the supporter's seat, cheering for Manny. 

A lot of things had changed compared to the original. From right to left, it was Gloria, Jay, Mitch, Claire, Haley, and then Luke. Phil was standing behind them to film the match.

Phil was the one holding the camera, so he didn't get beat up by Jay– from his overzealousness of watching his stepson dominate the match. Mitchell sat next to Claire, while she held Lily in her arms and kept sniffing her. 

Cam was needed at the football field. Alex woke up this morning, and felt that her fever had gone away, so she called her boyfriend who made his mom stop by to pick her up at her house and bring her to the football match instead of going to support Manny. 

As Manny initiated an attack, Luke shouted with a flushed face, "Touch her!!"

"LUKE!" Claire scolded her son with an astonished look on her face.

Phil turned to Luke and corrected, "It's Touche."

Claire turned to Haley and said with a grimace, "Haley put down your phone and focus on the game.."

Haley replied with an annoyed tone, "Hey! You asked me to come, not to watch. Mom! How long will this take? Ed's match is starting."

Jay turned to Haley who sat 3 seats away from him. "It's starting now? I thought we had more time?!"

"No. They finished filming early." Haley replied before she shouted to Manny, "Hey! Win this now!"

Manny felt encouraged as he thought that Haley was cheering for him and then took another point from his opponent. The buzzer rang, signalling that Manny had won the point. 

Jay grinned widely and hugged Claire with one arm, Gloria with the other. "All right, that's my boy!" He shouted. 

Claire was a bit astonished seeing her father so full of emotion. She glared at Jay for a second and glanced at Mitchell beside her before turning her attention back to the game. Mitchell noticed his dad's excitement too, and he felt a bit dejected inside.

[Jay and Gloria's commentary]

"You know, I used to go, to the houses of my friends, I'd see their kids' trophies, and it used to bug me, you know, because there was never, a trophy in my house. Not until this one." Jay said before wrapping his right hand around Gloria. 

[Commentary ends]

Phil turned to record Jay's reaction, causing him to turn his smile into a grimace. "Put that down! Don't you think you have enough already?!" Jay muttered with annoyance.

"And miss the part where you felt proud of Manny? I don't think I can do that. He needs to see it." Phil said as he continued recording Jay. Gloria giggled and kissed Jay on the cheek and said lovingly, "He really does. Ay Jay."

Jay smiled to Manny and said to Phil behind the camera, "I know you're not supposed to care, but it's kind of cool to have a kid in your house who's the best at something. You know what I mean?"

Phil and Claire's faces froze. But only for a second before they smiled once more.

[Phil and Claire's commentary]

Sitting on the couch with smiling faces, Phil started first, "Yeah, our kids are great."

Claire added, "They're the greatest."

"Gosh, we're blessed."

"We are."

Phil paused for a while and then leaned forward on the sofa, "I got to be honest, if Jay asked me that question a few months ago, I might not be able to answer it honestly."

Claire smiled and said, "Well, Alex is great at every single thing she tries. At first, I thought she needed to find something she needed to focus on. But now, I just want her to be happy while doing it."

Alex's change was not little. From a nerdy girl with an attitude, to one of the most popular girls in school while simultaneously holding the number one student position, and to getting a boyfriend, Claire was extremely proud of Alex– even though she thought that last part wasn't necessary for now.

Claire added with a hint of concern, "After I started working, I now realise how much pressure there is to survive out there. So, I will support Alex no matter what she decides to do."

Phil agreed with Claire and added, "Haley. Well, she is very pretty."

Claire commented, "Gorgeous, gorgeous girl."

" Her talents were hidden, and it may be because of our oversight." Phil said with some worried face. Claire nodded in agreement to him.

"But now, I believe that one day, the brand 'Haley Dunphy', fashion designer, will spread to the entire country." Phil grinned. "You might say I am dreaming big, but in all honesty, I don't think that I am dreaming big enough!"

Their smiles slowly turned as their faces became concerned. Phil turned to Claire and said, "And then, Uhh…I guess that leaves Luke."

Claire fiddled with her fingers while avoiding eye contact with Phil. He turned forward and confessed, "We dropped the ball a little bit on that one."

"Yeah, a little bit." Claire nodded in agreement. But then she added, "However, I am sure that he will find what he's best at soon enough. As long as he keeps being friends with Edward."

Phil smiled and nodded, "I remember Ed said that Luke has a perfect pitch, so he can become a musician if he wants to. Or, an inventor. Or a baseball player. He could do anything, if he only puts himself on it."

Claire nodded and said with a worried expression, "But we can't really force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. And it's hard to get him passionate about something."

"And what better example he has to follow than us? His dad, who is the top regional real estate salesman." Phil said with excitement before he smirked and added, "Oh, yeah. I have finally beaten Gil Thorpe!"

Claire hugged Phil's arm to show that she's proud of him. She looked at him with an expectant gaze, but Phil was silently smiling.

Claire was irritated and scolded, "Phil! What about me!?"

Phil turned to Claire in confusion, "I thought you wanted to say that on your own!?"

"Yeah. But it's nice if you can say it once in a while." Claire said with a little pout. Then, she looked into the camera and continued Phil's sentence, "And his mother, who is the VP of logistics for the Entertain Game division, and also the tourism department.."

"Wait. I thought you were the vice director of logistics." Phil interrupted.

"It's the same thing." Claire said while rolling her eyes. 

[Commentary ends]

The referee raised Manny's hand and said , "How about a nice round of applause for our winner, Manny Delgado. Manny now moves on to the championship, where he'll be competing against Caroline Markum."

Manny turned to see a little girl bowing to the audience, and his face fell into contemplation. The referee continued, "We'll see you all back here at 4:30. Now. I have a football match to watch."

The middle aged man scampered quickly to the door, leaving behind a stunned audience. 

Manny walked back to his mother who hugged him, "Ahi Dios mío, papito lindo, que belleza que orgullo la Abuela va a estar dichosa. ('Oh my god, sweetie, how beautiful, how proud (I am). Grandma will be overjoyed.')" She pinched his cheek.

After she finished speaking, Manny turned to Jay who then said, "What she said." He has no idea of what she was speaking about, but he knew it was supportive.

"Wow. This means more to Dad than it does to Manny." Claire whispered to her brother. 

"Yeah, it's his chance to be father of a champion. Well, second chance. We all know how the first time went." Mitchell snarked.

Claire was confused, "Wait. We did win. Remember that trophy?"

Mitchell's eyes lit up for a second before he turned helpless, "Yeah. But mommy– MOM! I meant mom!" He stopped Claire quickly as he realised his own mistake. "She donated them to the ice rink."

"Yeah…Well…Without our consent." Claire muttered as she got a naughty idea. "We should go get it."

Jay walked to the family and said, "I wanna thank you guys for coming by and supporting the kid. You guys are the best!" Jay said before he slapped Phil's shoulder and squeezed it tightly.

As Phil winced in pain, Manny said, "Wait, why are we still lingering around here? We need to go to the football field right now."

"Yeah. Manny is right." Haley said with an anxious tone. "We need to go there, right now! The opponent already has 2 downs! Ed's team is losing!"

Football field. The audience exclaimed in sympathy as the Dolphin– the High School team's defence was penetrated again, and the SeaHawks– the college team, made another touchdown.

The score is now 20-0. The college team won in the coin toss, and they started as the offensive team while Edward's team had to become the defensive team. The difference between them was the possession of the ball.

Without any intervention on the possession of the ball, the offensive team would keep their roles until the second half of the game. 

Edward sat on the bench outside of the field as he watched the game with a sharp gaze. Then, he signalled Tyler who was in the field as a Defensive Lineman.

"Blitz? Are you serious?" Tyler whispered as he looked at Edward in disbelief.

Edward nodded to him as he was absolutely sure of his decision. Tyler shrugged and said, "Alright."

Cam was nervous as he stood next to Edward, "Are you sure they are going to pass?"

"Yeah. The quarterback touched his right shoulder just before this. He will touch his left shoulder if he's using the wideout, but the receivers are already tired." 

Edward had learnt every single information they have on the opposite team. He even knew the colour of the other team's captain's underwear. However he didn't intervene in the beginning to study his own team's capabilities in a high pressure match. 

Cam becomes dramatic, "I hope you're right." Cam said. " I know I'm just the assistant coach, but–"

Edward rolled his eyes and said, "You don't have to act like you're in the role of an underappreciated coach. When I'm in there, we will need your help."

"Set…HUT!" The quarterback of the SeaHawks shouted before the centre snapped the ball to him. The defensive line of the two teams clashed together. The quarterback passed the ball to the running back, and he ran past the defensive line.

However, less than 5 yards in, Tyler rushed towards the running back and tackled him from his side. The running back didn't expect it and the ball fell from his clutch.

"FUMBLE!" Tyrone shouted before diving into the fray with the other players. It was an opportunity for them to get the ball as the ball was in neither team's possession. If they managed to get it, then they could turn the offensive and defensive roles around.

"Get off–" The referee said in disbelief as he pried away the human hill one by one. Then, he finally saw who got the ball. There was a cut on Tyrone's upper lip, making his mouth and teeth bloody. He spits out his mouth guard and smiles as he sees the referee. He raised the ball in his hand into the air, and the audience exploded in cheers.

"WE GOT IT!" Cam shouted in a high pitch feminine voice while raising his fists into the air. Edward smirked and finally stood up from the bench. He walked into the field as the quarterback, causing immense cheer from the audience.

The other team's captain said in a wry manner, "I feel like the villain here."

"NEWGATE! NEWGATE! NEWGATE!" The audience chanted Edward's name.

Feeling a bit pressured, Edward equipped a fake smile and waved to the audience. He walked to his position and signalled something to Tyler. In the offensive team position, Edward was the quarterback, and Tyler was the running back.

Edward stood just behind the centre of the defensive lineman– Jacob. Kyle– an emo kid with bangs covering one of his eyes and eyeliners, was the tight end who's going to protect Tyler as he ran his route.

Tyrone stood on the furthest side of the line as he was the wide receiver. To explain it in a simple way, to score a touchdown, Edward has 3 ways he could use. First, he threw the ball to the wide receiver, and he ran it across the yards.

Second, he gave the ball to the running back, either with a short pass or a touch, and he would run it while Edward helped him defend.

The third way was for him to run it himself. He needed to pass the blockings and stopped the tackles, which is going to put him in a high risk position. Why? Because everyone else expects him to do that.

Seahawks team coach signalled the defensive lineman to watch Edward closely.

As Edward got ready behind Jacob, he felt a tinge of reminisce along with all of the pressure. He smirked secretly before taking a deep breath. Jay and the others arrived at this moment and all of them turned their attention directly to the game without thinking. 

"READY!!! SET….HUT!" Edward shouted and the game began! Edward took a few steps back as he caught the ball. Jacob grabbed the opposite team's centre and held his ground, making the defensive line stand strong.

Edward hid the ball within his arms instead of passing it, stepped left three steps before running like an arrow released from the string. He passed the defensive line and two blockers, running through 20 yards at an instance.

"NO! ED! WATCH OUT!" Taylor and Haley shouted at the same time. The opposite team's captain tackled Edward from behind, and he fell to the ground.

"Nice try kid." The captain sneered. But then, Edward turned towards him with a teasing smile on his face. The captain widened his eyes as he saw that Edward's hand was empty.

"What the–" He turned, only to see number 70– Tyler, rushing to the end zone unobstructed. 

Jay grinned and said, "NICE FAKE OUT! Impressive! I didn't even see when he passed the ball to the running back."

Tyler reached the end zone, and the whole audience cheered. The referee announced, "Touch down!", and the Dolphin's score turned from zero to 6.

"So, what's it going to be, a kick or a play?" Jacob asked Edward with a heavy breathing as he grabbed Edward's hand and pulled him up from the ground. Edward held his ribs and grunted, "Uh. He tackled me very hard. Also, we're going for a play."

After scoring a touchdown, the team could try for an extra point. One point by kicking the ball from the 2 yards line into the goalpost, or starting a play at the 2 yard line for a chance to get 2 points.

Edward checked the time, and they were at 14 minutes and 32 seconds. They have only one play left before the first quarter ends.

The team faced off 2 yards behind the endzone. In the audience, Phil narrowed his eyes as he tried to watch the game clearer and said, "Wait. They are not kicking it? Why not? Doing a play is very risky."

No one could answer him. Suddenly, Alex, who appeared out of nowhere, explained, "It's simple. Their team doesn't have a kicker. Well, Edward can do it, he's an all rounder. But it will be hard for them to catch up on the point afterward."

Claire widened her eyes, "Alex, when did you get here?"

"From the beginning." Alex said as she munched on some popcorn. "Haley, Tara is sitting with us."

Haley nodded and said, "I was looking for her. Let's go there."

Enid, Jenna, Elsa, Finneas, Billie, Abraham were all there rooting for Edward. Even Sage and Mrs Henderson were in the audience, watching the game. Even Selena came there after finishing her medical checkup.

"Set…HUT!" Edward shouted. Jacob snapped the ball to him, and then clashed with the other team's defensive line. But this time, two of them were pushing on Jacob. In a one-on-one confrontation, he could still take it. However he failed to defend this time. 

The defenders rushed to tackle Edward, and when they were a foot away, Edward made a short pass to Tyler who then breached the defensive line and scored the point for them. 

The referee blew the whistle and awarded the team with the point, "Touch down!"

The crowd cheered, but Haley was anxious and fearful for Edward. "He got tackled again." She said with dissatisfaction. "HEY JACOB DO YOUR JOB BETTER!" Haley shouted into the field.

The referee blew the whistle for the first quarter. The score now is 20-8. Edward's team was still in the offence role, and the second half of the game started after a short break.

[Manny's commentary]

"I had to fight a girl in my next match, but Edward is being a hero on the football field." Manny said with some slight dissatisfaction. 

He shook his head and said, "Personally, I don't like American football. Not only is it confusing for me, because in Colombia there's another type of football, but it is called soccer here, but I just don't like senseless violence."

The video cuts to Manny shouting euphorically as Edward's team scored a touchdown.

Back to the commentary, "It's just not elegant." 

The camera cuts again to the sight of Manny shouting profanities in Spanish to the referee after he saw Edward getting tackled.

Back to the commentary, "The rules don't even make sense–....But why...I don't know why there is a tingly feeling in my heart, and a wisp of dissatisfaction when I saw Edward out in the field like that? Did he take my moment to shine? Of course not, he plays a whole different game. So…it left me with just one possibility."

The screen changed into Manny staring at the cheerleaders with the short skirt chanting for Edward.

"Edward. Newgate. When you see him, it is too late!" The cheerleaders chanted. "Edward. Newgate. Give up now, for your own sake!"

Back to the commentary, "It's the girls."

[Commentary ends]

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