Diego Ramos is not the noun, the verb or even the adjective in Columbus’ attack. He’s more like the semicolon.
He’s not the dress shirt, the skinny jeans or the just-out-of-the-box sneakers. He’s more like the bow tie kept in the back of the closet, saved for a special occasion.
That occasion, though, happened on Monday night – an odd night for night school football in a game full of unusual occurrences.
Booker T. Washington, for example, scored on two safeties. But even that wasn’t the most unusual item in a thrilling game won by host Columbus 21-19.
No, the quintessential high school football moment came after the game’s first touchdown. Columbus botched the extra point when quarterback/holder Anthony Arguelles bobbled the snap.
It’s an eventuality that all coaches plan for but none have any idea how it will work out when the time comes.
On this play, Arguelles rolled to the right under heavy pressure.
“Fire! Fire!” is what Arguelles yelled, signaling his eligible teammates to make themselves available as receivers.
“It slipped right through my hands,” Arguelles said of the snap. “I yelled ‘fire’ and my receivers broke out. I saw (Ramos) open, and I gave it to him.”
That was all true except it was vastly understated. Arguelles made it sound like a handoff. In reality, Ramos drove toward the right corner of the end zone and laid out for a stellar diving catch.
For Ramos, a senior, it was the first points of his high school career and perhaps the last, given the fact that he only plays on extra points and field goals, serving as a right wing blocker.
The play would’ve been easy to forget since it happened in the first period. But it was made more meaningful because in a two-point win, Ramos’ catch proved to be the difference.
“I guarantee you,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said, “(Ramos) will remember that play for the rest of his life.”
Merritt said Ramos is a good athlete who had been a baseball player until recently.
“He had a shoulder injury so he stopped playing baseball,” Merritt said. “He’s only been playing football for a couple of months. It’s taken him some time just to do ball drills, to adjust to catching the football.
“But that was an athletic catch. Big plays are made in games like this to help us win, and he came up with one.”
There were many other big plays of course.
Columbus (4-1) got two touchdown runs from Henry Parrish Jr. and two field goals and one extra point by Chris Estevez.
BTW (2-3) rallied from an 18-2 second-quarter deficit by getting two touchdown passes from Daniel Richardson, the two safeties and a field goal by Andres Borregales, whose brother, Jose, kicks for FIU.
But the Tornadoes’ fourth-quarter two-point conversion try failed when Willie Davis dropped a pass in the right flat with 4:12 left in the game. Had he caught the ball, he could have walked in the end zone.
On the next play, Columbus’ Courtney Holmes returned the kickoff 70 yards, changing momentum.
After a missed Columbus field goal, BTW took over at its own 20 with 1:48 left in the game. However, the Tornadoes needed to drive at least 60 yards to get into position for a winning field goal.
On the last play of the game, after BTW had driven into Columbus territory, Richardson was intercepted in the end zone by Holmes.
“My team was counting on me,” Holmes said. “I just have to make plays all through the season. I’m not done yet.”
He’s probably right. Just a sophomore, Holmes already has an offer from Michigan, and he’s just one of the many big-time college prospects on the Columbus roster.
Parrish, for example, has an offer from Florida Atlantic. Receiver Tyler Harrell has numerous offers and is supposedly headed to Louisville.
Even Arguelles, while perhaps not as highly regarded in football, is a talented pitcher and a baseball prospect.
Let’s put it this way: He is so unknown that even the Columbus roster butchered his first name, calling him “Diago”.
No matter. Arguelles said he had seen Ramos make similar catches in practice, and he was thrilled his teammate did the same when the big moment came his way.
“It was exhilarating,” Ramos said. “It’s a dream for a lot of players. It was a great moment. I had to lay out and make it happen.
“But all glory goes to God. It’s all Him right there.”