As I walked in through the gates, I hear that familiar voice from the ticket office "Go Big Red", it's the same lady that was so kind to me on my first visit, who is originally from Lincoln. I gave her a nod, and told her it was nice seeing her again, then made my way in the stadium.
The house was packed, this was a game against a district rival in Loyola College Prep for the district championship, if Curtis and the Griffins win, they host the first round of the playoffs the following week.
As I'm making my way to the portable to greet the coaches, I notice they all seemed a little different from my last trip. To a man, they all had very intense looks on their faces, I could tell this was more than just another "big game".
Some of the people I met on my previous visit were gathered in front of the portable, the Sheriff, the School Superintendant, and other assistant coaches. So I mingled with them for a few moments and discovered the back story behind the game.
"This isn't just about a football game," said one of the assistant coaches. "These two schools have a lot of animosity towards each other. Loyola is a private school, with a ton of money, they've won a lot over the years.
"We're a blue collar community here, and we haven't had as much success as them over the years. But things are changing, starting with tonight."
The Sheriff said his son, who plays on the team with Curtis, has been rubbing it in all week.
"He's been in his teammates ear all week about that kind of stuff, I told him this game is about pride, pride in yourself, and pride in your community. We don't just want to win, we want to blow them out."
As head coach Abernathy made his way out of the portable, he welcomed me back and told me he hoped I brought them more good luck. He also gave me some insight into their game plan for Curtis.
"Last time you were here it was a monsoon," laughed coach Abernathy. "Things look a lot better tonight, and we might use Curtis a lot, so get that camera ready."
But what was interesting was how they planned to use Curtis at QB, not with his legs, but with his arm.
"We've seen a few things on tape we like, matchups in the passing game. I think you might get to see Curtis throw the ball around tonight."
Really, are they weak on the back end?
"Yeah, and we think we can get them with some play action and misdirection. You'll see tonight, Curtis can do more than just run. He'll play defense too, depending on the score."
I decided to do something a little different this time around. Instead of shooting highlights from the press box, coach Ab okayed me being on the Griffins sideline. So as I was setting up my camera and stand on about the 35 yard line, I notice Curtis and several other players are heading to the middle of the field, I wasn't aware, but this was senior night, and players and their parents would be honored before the game.
Then to my right I see all the parents in a group, of maybe 30, heading out the the field to be introduced with their sons.
I flip my camera on and zoom in or Curtis, he's standing there with two of the proudest parents you've ever seen. And Mr. Carter? He's decked out, head to toe in Nebraska gear, with a huge smile on his face. I got all that on tape, you guys are going to love it. I also had a nice conversation with both his parents after the game, more on that later.
After the Griffins held them to a three and out on the opening drive, Curtis and the offense went to work.
After 4 or 5 belly dives and a few counters, it was time to showcase Carter's arm. From the 25 yard line, Curtis rolls out to his left, throws across his body to the corner of the end zone, touchdown 7-0. He is 1-1.
They then force another three and out on the ensuing drive, Carter back on the field. This time after a reverse to the wing back, on the next play Curtis drops back. This one to the other corner of the end zone from 33 yards out, touchdown 14-0. He is now 2-2 passing.
Now the Griffins force a fumble and get the turnover on the 45 yard line. Curtis hands off up the middle twice for no gain, and then on 3rd down he works his magic again. Falling off his back foot, with pressure in his face, he throws a bomb that hits the WR in perfect stride, touchdown 21-0. He is now 3-3 passing with 3 td's, you get the picture?
They eventually routed Loyola 48-14, and I got all of it on tape. Curtis had another big kickoff return, and scored another touchdown rushing, he also played corner but they only threw at him one time. He finished 7 of 9 passing for over 140 yards with 4 total touchdowns.
He is a dominant player and you guys are going to love the video. Its 20 minutes long, and shot from the Griffins sideline so you will get a good feel for the game atmosphere. I also did a one-on-one video interview with Curtis after the game you will enjoy.
Finally I wanted to talk about my conversation with his parents after the game. You won't find a classier family on the planet, extremely cordial and polite. And after that performance by Curtis, it couldn't have been a more perfect night, and then talking to his parents after the game turned out to be the highlight of my trip.
Here is some of that conversation.
"Nice to meet you Kevin, I really enjoyed that story you wrote on Curtis last time you were here."
Thank you, it was my pleasure.
"I guess you saw tonight Curtis can throw that thing around a little," smiled Mr. Carter.
Yeah I saw that, but I want to know where he gets that speed from, is it you?
"I don't now about that one, he might have gotten a little of that from my brother, he had some good speed back when we were young."
Mrs. Carter had different thoughts on the subject.
"Wait a minute, I already tried telling them that speed comes from me, but they don't want to listen to that." laughed Mrs. Carter.
His father also told me the family will be making a trip to Lincoln, when Curtis takes an unofficial to Nebraska for the game against Kansas State.
"We are bringing the whole family with us up there for that game. All Curtis has done since he got home was talk about the place, so we figured we needed to get up there and see it too. I know he had a great time up there, and talked about how well he was treated, and my wife and I want to see it as well."
Mr. Carter said he also had a nice conversation with the head coach at Nebraska the night before.
"Yeah, I had a good long talk with Bo, that's my guy. I really think he's got that program going in the right direction, he wants to win badly. He said he feels like they are 2 or 3 players away from winning it all, and I believe him. He wants to get more speed on the roster, that's the one thing you can't teach."
He also said distance from home was never a factor for Curtis.
"No, I don't even worry about anything like that. Curtis is the type of kid that likes to see new places and meet new people. He is able to get along with everybody, and I think he would tell you he wants to experience new things. Nebraska was just a perfect fit."
It all makes sense now, and I see why Curtis Carter's character is off the charts, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You surround a great athlete with a great support system, boom … you get a Curtis Carter.