When Broadway Joe Namath’s New York Jets beat Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, that was an underdog win.
When the Country Day Faculty soared to its 21-14 victory over the Students in the 2012 Cougar Bowl, that was an historic triumph on par with Alexander the Great’s defeat of Darius III, or even Rocky Balboa’s knockout of Apollo Creed.
The Faculty had racked up a half-decade of consecutive losses and, early in the first quarter, history seemed poised to repeat itself. Asked what the score was, Head of Upper School Eric Bondy said, “We’re not losing, which is good.” No sooner had those words left his mouth when the Students picked off a Faculty pass deep in their own territory, turning the endzone into a helicopter blur of black t-shirts as the kids broke into a chorus of “Let’s go students!”
Several series later, the Students had the ball around their own 25 when the Faculty defense made a risky choice and blitzed. Playing quarterback, senior Spencer R. broke out of the pocket and channeled Randall Cunningham, gaining the first down and leaving a few teachers grasping for flags and catching handfuls of air. Faculty coach Mike Simpson saw he had to rally his troops: “No, no, no! Do not rush the QB! They’re younger and faster than we are, and they’re very slender. You guys… You guys are really bad at football,” he said.
Simpson’s stirring speech must have hit a nerve, because the Faculty managed to convert a nice post route into a touchdown as time ran out in the first quarter. Up 7-0, they would never trail for the rest of that warm, late-summer night.
Senior Sam G. walked the sidelines swooshing and shining as only someone decked out in head-to-toe polyester can. And while he might have seemed like the Student coach, the masking tape on the back of his jacket announced his true title: Couch.
Like any great couch, Sam gathered his team at halftime, and, with tongue firmly in cheek, said they had to “stay positive and come together as a group.” Another far-less-amused student remarked, “They’re winning,” his voice dripping with incredulity. “Seriously. How sad is that? They’re old and decrepit; look at them!”
With 5:50 left in the third quarter, senior Gaby D. plucked a Faculty pass out of the air and took it a few yards the other way, her interception stopping the Faculty drive cold and sending the Student sideline into hysterics. But despite some last-minute flashes of Student heroics, Friday just wasn’t going to be their day.
The buzzer sounded and the scoreboard told the tale: Students 14, Faculty 21. But Sam mustered his team around him one last time to put the loss into instant retrospect, as only a true head couch can: “We’re going to fix the world, then this game won’t matter,” he said.