These Friday night moments are what drive and energize us.
Not the last-second touchdowns or the bone-jarring sacks. Those are all part of what makes Friday nights under the lights special. But after the final horn has sounded and the players have broken up and taken off to their locker rooms, interviewing a kid who maybe was thrust into meaningful game duty for the first time sticks with you.
Last Friday night was the latest of such moments.
Because starting quarterback Malcolm Magee was tossed from the game for fighting, fans at Joe Barlow Stadium witnessed one of the better feel-good moments of the season — depending on your allegiance, of course.
After the altercation, Ocean Springs coach Ryan Ross looked down his sideline and eyed Jacob Galle in his perfectly white uniform, still crisp as if it was just plucked from its hanger.
You’re up, kid.
All the sophomore third-string quarterback did was help lead the Greyhounds to a 21-20 upset at No. 7 St. Martin by completing all four of his passes for 79 yards, including touchdowns of 8 and 7 yards.
After the team celebrated the win with the band, many of the players lingered, taking photos with friends and family. I plucked Galle from a group. He probably thought: Who is this guy?
I introduced myself. His eyes got a bit bigger — maybe bigger than when Ross called his name.
“Oh,” he said. “Sure.”
A couple teammates and assistant coaches deservingly gave Galle a hard time. One even wished him luck.
Galle handled the interview like a pro, however.
Admittedly, I had to Google Galle when he entered the game. There wasn’t much to read, as it turned out, so I asked if he’d played much.
“I’ve thrown two passes this season, both incomplete, so...”
Fair enough. You couldn’t have known by the way he played.
“Coming in, there were a little nerves,” he said. “I’m just glad we could get it done and pull it out.”
Star receiver and Mississippi State commit Austin Williams marveled at the composure of Galle, who entered the game with the Greyhounds trailing 14-6 and time rapidly running out.
“It shows our preparation as a team. Every practice he plays like he’s going to be a starter,” Williams said. “What’d he throw?Two touchdowns? It was great.”
At the end of the interview I asked for a quick head shot for the newspaper — just in case we didn’t already have a photo.
“Yeah, probably not,” he deadpanned.
The first time I remember conducting such an interview was Oct. 3, 2008. I was just starting out at the Oxford Eagle and had covered the OHS Chargers’ 28-14 victory over Indianola-Gentry. Starting QB Riley Saunders was injured and sophomore QB Guy Cameron Billips was called on.
Billups acted similarly to Galle after the game. There was the “who, me?” moment and the big Bugs Bunny eyes before conducting a fine interview. GCB ended up developing into one of the state’s best QBs by his senior year and eventually signed with Rice.
The interactions have happened annually since 2008, each probably more memorable to the reporter than to the young athlete.
These are the moments that make the job meaningful as a reporter. Who knows what the future holds for Galle — he’ll likely get to start Friday against Gulfport as Magee is suspended for nearly three quarters — but at least Friday he was one of the stars of the night.