Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Eric "Mosey" Posey: The Heart of Fourth Down in Texas


Coach Gordon Nehls is the narrator and protagonist of Fourth Down in Texas, but Eric “Mosey” Posey is the heart of the novel. He’s also the character I enjoyed writing the most, partly because he’s inspired by a former high school football player that I covered as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News (more on that in a minute).

Coach Nehls describes Mosey -- a nickname shortened to “Mose” by those who know him best – as a once-in-a-generation player. Mose was a kid who could launch a thousand coaching headaches, but he could also do it with a smile and a charm, and his immense competitiveness and ability made him a high school star.

That comes across when Coach Nehls talks about the final touchdown Mose scored in high school:
  
     One thing that has stuck with me from Mose’s last touchdown is the sound. Players and coaches around me were cheering, of course, but I could still hear the cracking and creaking of pads as the defenders changed direction and gave chase. They wore their pads like a set of armadillo plates and Mose wore his like a track suit. Maybe it was all the noise of the game —and if you’ve never been on the sidelines, football is a very loud game—but I couldn’t hear Mose running. I couldn’t hear his pads rubbing, or his cleats digging, or his body straining as he rounded the corner in front of me. He skated by, turned his head to the right, saw one defender to beat, and shifted gears.

     The diving defender didn’t get within a foot of Mose, who was all alone by the twenty-yard line. He high-stepped the last ten yards, crossed the goal line, spun the ball like a top, and turned toward our stands. He was posing for the crowd, arms folded across his chest, nodding and show­boating, when penalty flags flew like roses from adoring fans.

Mose was a legend as a high school football player, and now as a young man, he’s a mentor to Creekside’s rising star, sophomore quarterback Tyreke Abrams. Mose is an unofficial assistant coach, but he has a lot to offer the team and Coach Nehls.

He’s like a third son to Nehls, although the Coach sees the entire team as his family. Mose is an inspiration to the players and the entire community, who he dazzles with an impromptu speech about what football means to him during a dramatic scene in the book.

Mose is the player who can draw the emotions out of Coach Nehls, and it’s their conversations – about cornerbacks, about football, about music, about life – that show the incredible potential in a relationship between a player and coach. Coach Nehls and Mose have changed each other’s lives, and they both know it.

Writers sometimes talk about how, after creating a character, it’s difficult to believe that the character isn’t real. That's because of the time and effort you pour into creating a character, considering his or her thoughts and feelings, and trying to view the story from his or her perspective. But the character of Mose might feel even more real because, as I mentioned above, he is inspired by an actual person.

During my time at The Dallas Morning News, I got to know Corey Borner, who played for his beloved DeSoto Eagles until suffering an injury. Borner is a very inspiring guy who I wrote several stories about – here’s one of them – and we’ve stayed in touch over the years.

No, Corey is not Mosey. But Borner’s spirit, and spirituality, are definitely in Mosey. I’ve told Corey that.

As you’re checking out my book at www.fourthdownintexas.com and the first chapter online, also check out Corey on Twitter @lilcorey_trill.

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Read Chapter 1, along with reviews and other information about the book, at https://mattwixon.blogspot.com/2018/09/first-chapter-of-my-novel-fourth-down.html