Chapter 33 The Real Big Game

After Roseville came from behind to win their state semi-final game, it was on to Camp Randall for the home - town team.  

The station was in the front row of the booster's section with a full-scale effort to sell out game and team related ads in advance of the big game.

Steve Jackson was caught up in the excitement and looking forward to calling a game from the press box high above the stadium floor.  There would be extra interviews on his plate this week with the Roseville team and their opponent from Thorp.  But, first he knocked on the door of his friend Pete. 

"Hi, Pete." 

"Steve! Hey, this is pretty exciting stuff with the team and everything.  Congratulations, you're going to have a great time." 

"Thanks to you, Pete. I appreciate the opportunity.   On another matter, I do have something I'd like to talk about it if you have a few minutes.” 

"Sure, Steve.  Close the door and take a seat." 

After sitting in an old wood barrel style desk chair, Jackson collected his thoughts before he spoke. 
"Pete, you've been very good to me and never pulled any punches and I appreciate it.  I want to be the same way with you.  Frankly, I need some advice." 

"OK… I’m not sure I like where this is going, but I’ll help any way I can.”  Pete leaned back in his chair. 

Steve started his story, “Ever since I finished school I dreamed of one day doing regular play – by – play like I am now.  Frankly, I didn’t even foresee doing the stuff I’m getting to do now.  But, I’ve been asked to interview with WTMJ for a new position with them.   

“Last Friday, while I was driving up to LaCrosse for the game I couldn’t imagine being happier than I am here in Roseville.  Then Milwaukee called with a huge opportunity.  I don’t know what to do.” 

Pete looked at his friend.  “I know what you need to do.  You owe it to yourself to check it out.  Call WTMJ and ask if you can talk to them after the championship game.  After the game, if you want to take the job in Milwaukee, you’ve got my full support.  You need to learn what it entails and see if it feels right.  If it does, you need to go, it's a feather in our hat to send off one of our best guys to the big city.  Whatever you want, I'm with you.” 

“Thanks, Pete.  I appreciate it.  Can we keep this quiet for now?  I’ll set up an interview over the weekend and let you know as soon as I can.” 

“That’s fine, Steve. Good luck.” 

Emjay was just starting to tell Jake about her good news at the station when her phone rang.  Jake watched her face turn pink and noticed a hint of a smile on her face. 

“Thank you, doctor.  Yes, I’ll call in tomorrow morning to set an appointment.” 

“So…. What was that Emjay?” 

Emjay’s head was spinning.  Jake’s new job with the Badgers started a few weeks ago.  She was getting a promotion and her first real job.  They were married living in their own place, and she just learned they’re expecting! 

She took Jake’s hand in hers and sat down next to him on the couch.  She turned off the Big Ten Network’s game of the day and waited until Jake was watching her and waiting. 

“Well, let me tell you about the phone call.  I was feeling kind of funny last week so I went to the clinic.  They did a couple of tests and the call was to tell me the results.” 

Jake looked back at his bride, a concerned look on his face… “Is it positive news?” 

“Oh, it’s positive news, alright.  We’re pregnant.” 

In a matter of hours the Bauer and the Marberg families were aware of the happy news.  Elaine, Jean, and Uncle Glen started planning a shower for January.  Jean excitedly called Pete to share the news.  Pete suggested she bring the family, including Emjay and Jake down to Gus & Tom’s for pizza that evening.  Happy to include him in her scheme, Jean thanked him for the idea and promised to see him later. 

Pete and the station had another celebration to pull together.  An email from a friend at the University said Dr. Maxwell Straw had been honored by the American Medical Association for his work detecting the meat allergy and instituting a treatment protocol before it could spread. 

Moss’s vision was for a real community celebration to thank Dr. Straw, but also recognize what he hoped was a winning football team and the town's high performing students, top teachers and role models in the community. 

Pete asked Ken to invite Max back to Roseville for a city-wide celebration thanking him and to recognize the recovered victims.   That was a lot of moving parts, but could be the kind of community event for which Roseville was waiting. 

The day before the big game at Camp Randall, WRSE teamed up with Gus and Tom for a pep rally in front of their restaurant.  Steve Jackson was the emcee, introducing the coach and every player, cheerleader, and member of the Roseville band.  Varsity athletes dating back to the start of the school lined the streets for a short parade from downtown to the school where the team bus was leaving for Madison. 

Steve Jackson, Kathy Jones, Coach Suter, and Jeff who was coming along to engineer the broadcast got in the station's Chevy Suburban to join in the long line of cars following the team. 

As the smallest schools in for the Championship game, Roseville and Thorp were kicking off at 11am the next morning.  

WRSE began its coverage at 6 a.m. from their studio.  Jeff and Kathy would start with some reports during the 7 o’clock hour and after 8 the whole Sports Tonight crew would be in place as Championship Thursday took over the airwaves.   

The few people who weren’t in Madison were either at the radio station or Gus & Tom’s to catch the coverage from the hometown broadcast while watching the game on cable. 

Kathy threw it to Steve in the Camp Randall press box just before 11.  She knew Steve was excited, more than she had ever seen.   

The game was taut.  A back and forth affair with long scoring drives and tenacious defense.  With three minutes left in the game, Roseville trailed by 2 and forced Thorp to punt. 

Roseville plunged their ball carrier into the line for three yards on first down.  A screen pass gained 10 and put Roseville inside Thorp’s 40 with 90 seconds to play. 

Thorp held Roseville three straight plays and it was 4th and 5 with a minute to play.  Roseville’s quarterback dropped back to pass, but didn’t find anyone open so ran across the field behind his line and found a crease before getting slammed down at the 29.  It was close.  A measurement gave 
Roseville a fresh set of downs with 40 seconds on the clock. 

Steve noted every detail, called each player’s name, and asked Coach what he thought Roseville could run as time ran down. 

First down a run around end gained six.  A short pass picked up two, and a long pass toward the end zone was knocked away by Thorp’s defensive back.  4th down at the 20 and Roseville sent out its kicker. 

“Roseville’s going to try a field goal to win the game.” 

James John lined up for a 37 yarder.  John spent most of his time playing soccer, but coach asked him to help out the football team just before the play-offs.  They hadn’t needed him until now.  He ran through his checks, looked at his holder and nodded. 

“There’s 10 seconds on the clock.  Here’s the snap, the placement’s good, the kick is away.  And… it’s…. GOOOD!!!  It’s good!  It’s good!  Roseville is your state Champion!”  Jackson backed away from the mic and turned it off so the crowd mikes could pick up the sound from the band playing the school song mixing with the hooting and shouting from a large Roseville crowed which barely made its presence felt in the 80,000 seat stadium.   

Jackson smiled, there was no place he’d rather be right now.  Behind the mike calling a great game for the hometown team.  He knew he’d never forget this day no matter what he did the rest of his career.