For Love of the Game

Wed, Nov 21, 2007 (7:15 a.m.)

In flip-flops instead of cleats, with a jersey instead of shoulder pads hanging off his shoulders, Moapa Valley junior Ben Paul does all he can do from a wheelchair as his team pulls away from Virgin Valley in the 3A championship game.

"This is our game, Baby," he says in a raspy voice, barely audible over the fans after nearly four quarters of cheering. "This is our time!"

The circumstances surrounding Paul's temporarily being in a wheelchair would lead many to bemoan, "Why me?" And it becomes even more difficult when you are playing for the state championship against your nemesis, Virgin Valley.

"It was nerve-racking 'cause last year we played them for the championship - it was a big, hyped up game - and I got to come up to the varsity team and we ended up losing."

Watching and not contributing to the hits, points and result are particularly frustrating.

"I started starting the week before I got injured. I blew out my (anterior cruciate ligament) during a scrimmage and had surgery two weeks ago," the running back/middle linebacker/special teams player says. "All year long we kept building and building until last week when we came back from a deficit to win and bring us to the state championship to play our biggest rival, our arch rival.

"It was nerve-racking not to be able to go out on the field, but winning the state championship is the best feeling in the world. I can't describe it."

Or, after four quarters of shouting, voice it.


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