Yokohama High School Football 1955

(Offensive Backfield Jon Lynn 17, Chip Lavery 15, Dan 13, Tom Hemingway 14) (Line: Pinky Hart, Gary Porier, Sandy Milwit, Jim Crank, Roy Busby, Pete Orth, Harold Greene)

The team selected Tom Hemingway and Roy Busby co-captains. Tom was also the president of the Yohi student body. Since he had played quarterback at his Texas high school, he worked on my passing, laterals, and fakes until I became the first team quarterback. John Lynn was our fastest halfback and Chip played fullback. Tom played a passing and running halfback who chose all the plays to run in the huddle.

(Click to Zoom Images-Tom running with ball, Dan and Chip blocking)

Our team won every game except to Nihon University in Tokyo. Jon Lynn led the team in touchdowns and yards gained, and Tom was right behind him. On a broken play designed for a handoff to Chip, I scored a touchdown. As the ball came to me from the center, I turned to handoff to Chip but he had started to run wide to the left instead of at the tackle as the play required. Tucking the ball under my left arm, I dashed into hard-bodied line-backers in front of the end zone. They smacked me hard at the goal line, but I managed to drive them back for my first varsity touchdown. Picking myself up from the ground, aching from the collision, I saw Tom approach with a concerned expression. “What happened? That was Chip’s play,” he asked.

He did not want a brother feud and was assured it was not after I explained why I kept the ball to make the most of a broken play. Near the end of the game from defensive end I chased their college fullback down from behind as he went around the opposite end on the sidelines. I surprised him by grabbing his shoulder pads and yanking him down to the ground with a THUMP and jumped over him smiling.

(click to zoom YoHi Football Team 1955)

We won the Japan championship against Narimasu of Tokyo in a game that featured a moment when Tom took over the stage. Narimasu had a linebacker who had attended Yohi the year before who was about Tom’s weight and size. Early in the game we were back on our own five yard line. Tom called a play that failed and he dove for an extra yard. The linebacker kicked Tom and elbowed him on the ground. “Oh, you like to play dirty?” Tom responded, and ran back to the huddle and yelled, “43 on one!” That meant he would run the ball through the “3” hole between left guard and tackle where the Narimasu linebacker stood proudly beating his chest.

When Tom yelled “Ready, set, hut one,” I took the ball and stepped toward the “3” hole to my left as Tom barreled through where muscular guard Roy Busby and huge tackle Pete Orth drove open a hole for Tom’s streaking body to bust through. Tom hit the linebacker with his helmet to his chest, churned his feet like a Sherman Tank, knocked the defender back four yards, bull-dozed him again, knocked him to the ground, and then buried his shoulder pad into his grimacing face. CRACK, BAM, THUD was heard by all from Tom’s assault and the brute’s helmet hitting the turf on the 15 yard line. The linebacker’s helmet was turned halfway around from the impact and sweat poured down his dirty worried face.

“Let’s do that again men.” Tom barked so all could hear, “43 on one. Ready, set, hut one.” He zoomed through the "3" hole, lowered his helmet like a bull, raised it into the linebacker’s midsection with all his might as his thick thighs and huge leg muscles dug spikes into the ground and lifted his body into his opponent with maximum force. THWACK! Tom jolted the defender back four more yards, then hit him again with a thunderous blow from his forearms and helmet that threw the linebacker on his back to the 25 yard line, and fell on his chest knocking all the air out of him—WHOOSH!

Unbelievably Tom yelled, “43 on one” again. When it was over we had the ball on the 35 yard line and two teammates dragged the disheveled linebacker off the field. That series was the most dramatic in any sport I had observed. Tom triumphed without playing dirty and advanced our team down the field making one first down after another until we trounced Narimasu for the Japan Championship.

(Click to zoom Images)(Dan running with ball, About to tackle a Narimasu runner,Kneeling with Bux, handing off to Chip)

(Click to Zoom Tico, Our white Chihuahua, the YoHi Mascot)

This entry was posted in Memoir "All the Difference", Non-Fiction, Pictures, Sports, Writings by Daniel C. Lavery. Bookmark the permalink.

About Daniel C. Lavery

Dan’s writing shows his transformation from a child to an athlete and a Duke pre-ministerial student where he began to question ancient and arbitrary dogma. He graduated from Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, and a ship to Vietnam, fell in love, turned peace activist and a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW. His memoir, "All the Difference," describes the experiences, some humorous and others deadly, that changed his consciousness from a pawn to an advocate crusading for justice against some of the most powerful forces in America.

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