FIELDER’S CHOICES: Player’s viral speech provides needed pick-me-up

The bad streak I’ve been on with my picks put me in a real funk.

I wasn’t able to crack the .500 mark against the spread the past two weeks and, to be honest, it began to wear on my confidence. I needed some encouragement, a little inspiration.

Luckily, Apollos Hester provided it.

Hester is a senior wide receiver for East View (Texas), and after his team remained undefeated with a 42-41 victory over Vandegrift (Texas) on Friday, his “awesome” postgame interview went viral on the Internet.

On the Mount Rushmore of inspirational sports speeches, Hester’s effort falls somewhere between Tim Tebow’s “Promise” and Norman Dale’s message to the Hickory High basketball team prior to the state final in “Hoosiers.”

Here’s a sample:

“Well, at first we started slow, we started real slow, and you know, that’s all right, that’s OK, because sometimes in life, you’re going to start slow. That’s OK,” Hester enthusiastically told Time Warner Cable News in Austin, Texas.

“We told ourselves, ‘Hey, we’re going to start slow, we’re going to keep going fast. We’re going to start slow, but we’re always, always going to finish fast. No matter what the score was, we’re going to finish hard; we’re going to finish fast.’ “

Start slow, finish fast.

Thanks, Apollos. That’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Now that I’m properly motivated, it’s time to improve my record ATS. This week’s schedule is loaded with quality games — that’s rare — and most of the action takes place Saturday night, which gives me an extra day to sort through my power ratings.

St. John Bosco (Calif.) at Bishop Gorman — There’s no better way to ring in the Jewish new year than with a Friday night showdown between two parochial-school powerhouses. Shalom! Seriously, though, prep football fans across the country have been waiting for this game since the national rankings were released this summer. It’s so big, the folks in Bristol, Conn., even ditched a few episodes of “SportsCenter” so they could put it on ESPN.

The Braves, led by UCLA-bound quarterback Josh Rosen, are ranked No. 1 by USA Today and reportedly plan to check out the Blue Man Group show while they’re in town. Good choice, but I would have gone with Jabbawockeez. … St. John Bosco by 3.

Centennial at Las Vegas — A virtual high-five to the schedule maker, as this is one of four Saturday games that features two teams ranked in the Southern Nevada Football Coaches Poll.

The Bulldogs have been impressive, but this is the first road game for Centennial, and it faces a Wildcats team smarting from last week’s shutout loss. Las Vegas has been a lot of sizzle and very little steak on offense thus far. I wouldn’t bust out the A-1 against the Bulldogs. … Centennial by 4.

Palo Verde at Liberty — There’s a reason Darwin Rost is one win shy of 150 for his career. The Panthers looked pedestrian in an opening loss to Centennial but have bounced back to win two straight against ranked opponents. That’s coaching, folks.

Meanwhile, the Patriots’ offense has managed only one touchdown the past two weeks and faces a Palo Verde defense that is allowing 12 points per game. First team to 14 points wins. … Palo Verde by 1.

Coronado at Arbor View — Random factoid about the Cougars: They’ve scored 41 points in each of their two wins. I’ll be shocked if they score that many this week.

The Aggies added a passing game to their ground-and-pound attack last week, throwing for two TDs. They’ll need that added dimension against Coronado because this game will be closer than many think. … Arbor View by 6.

Eldorado at Canyon Springs — The Sundevils are undefeated and moved into the SNFC rankings this week for the first time since Steven Jackson was trucking people on the northeast side. All right, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but only by a little bit.

I had reservations about the Pioneers before last week, and those five turnovers in the win over Foothill didn’t do much to change my mind. But I expect Hunkie Cooper’s crew to put together a convincing performance. … Canyon Springs by 10.

Desert Pines at Boulder City — Someone lend me a quarter, because this game appears to be a coin flip. The Jaguars have been inconsistent on defense this season, though the offense has produced numerous big plays and 38.5 points per game.

The Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak and counter with quarterback Trenton Carmell, who has accounted for 12 TDs. That’s impressive, but I’m going with the team that’s played the tougher schedule. … Desert Pines by 2.

Sierra Vista at Cheyenne — The Mountain Lions were hotter than the “Shmoney Dance” before running into Mojave last week. Now, Sierra Vista is facing a three-week stretch against the Desert Shields, Clark and Faith Lutheran that could prove to be season defining. My, how quickly things change in the Sunset League.

I’ve been sleeping on Cheyenne, which deserves credit for playing one of the toughest schedules in Division I-A. Not anymore. … Cheyenne by 3.

Legacy at Cimarron-Memorial — If you’re a fan of diminutive running backs like I am, this is the game for you. Longhorns senior DeMichael Walker is listed at 5 feet 8 inches tall, while Cimarron’s Maurice Bennett is 5-6. I don’t know if either of those heights is truthful.

Walker and Bennett will probably get plenty of touches. If I was the Spartans’ public-address announcer, I’d play Skee-Lo’s “I Wish” as a tribute.

“I wish I was little bit taller, I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her. I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a 6-4 Impala.” … Legacy by 1.

Last week: 4-4, 4-4 (with points)

Season: 20-11, 16-15 (with points)

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