MELISSA — Coaches and their teams prepare for just about every imaginable possibility before taking the field. That was surely the case on Friday when Celina visited Melissa in a key District 7-4A(I) match-up. But sometimes life presents the unimaginable.
With Melissa clinging to a 22-17 late-fourth-quarter lead and the Bobcats about to punch in a go-ahead score, a game official collapsed to the ground and lay prone near the Cards’ 5-yard-line at the stadium’s north end. Parker Jack and Chance Mapps had just stuffed Celina power back Logan Point on 2nd-and-goal from the 3 — then everything stopped.
A large group of staff and medical personnel from both schools gathered around the fallen official as the packed stands fell silent. Sensing a serious situation, the teams were quickly called to their respective sidelines where they knelt in prayer. One official strode out beyond the home-side hash marks and knelt alone as his colleague received treatment.
After a time, word spread that the stricken official had been revived after a cardiac emergency. He was soon transported via stretcher to a waiting ambulance as fans stood as one and applauded. Word on Monday was that the revived official is still with us.
All told, play was stopped for almost 30 minutes and — after brief warm-ups by both squads — the game continued with the four remaining officials.
“In 30 years of coaching I’ve never seen anything like that,” Celina head coach Bill Elliott said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Melissa head coach Matt Nally called it “the most odd experience of my life.”
The Cardinals ended up scoring one more time and won the game 29-17.