As I said in a story on homecoming recently, it couldn’t have been more dramatic, the day having begun with the football team’s coach, Joe McKee, being struck by a truck on Newtown Lane as he was bringing to his truck parked in front of the middle school flowers that he’d picked up at Wittendale’s, flowers that the team’s seniors were to give to their mothers a few hours later before the game begain.
You never know.
Happily, Joey McKee avoided serious injury, or worse, and the word at the game was that, while hospitalized, he was okay, which is to say no bones were broken, though he was, he said the next day, bruised all over and would be sore for a long time. Such things shouldn’t happen to people who put in so much time for others, to people who work so hard to enable others — young football players in this case — to feel the joy that attends exhilarating success born of hard work.
He’s felt that joy, I know: I still think of him in recalling a marvelous second-half comeback at Babylon, once our arch, and practically unbeatable, foe, in 1982. Joey McKee, the tight end and middle linebacker, played a prominent role in that comeback. I was tempted to reach for Biblical analogies afterward.
I remember, too, the late Gordon Peavy, who had done his best to teach me Linus’s “blanket-and-me” dance for our “Peanuts” show at Guild Hall, saying, when he saw a basketball photo I’d taken of a layup Joey had made that it was “a perfect arabesque.”
Grace and explosive force can, of course, go hand-in-hand in football, and they did the other day, in Alex Davis’s case in particular. Twice the opponents scored near the end of the opening periods, and twice the Bridgehampton sophomore replied, in electrifying fashion, taking the crowd’s breath away with 75-yard touchdown runs, the first after he’d seemingly been stopped by three tacklers, the second after gathering in a kickoff just before the halftime break.
Eastport-South Manor did not score after that, though Davis and Charlie Stern, a wide receiver, and Charlie Corwin, the quarterback, did — touchdowns that, with Emmanuel Morales’s perfect extra-point kicking, resulted in a 35-14 win whose savor no one, judging from the love fest that ensued, ever wanted to fade.
It was a homecoming win all the more memorable for the fact that its attainment was the players’ gift to their coach and a gift to themselves. All, it seemed, were bathed in redeeming grace.