Packed the bags the Thursday evening prior to Tecmo Madison, and got all of the necessities together for a trip that panned out to be one for the ages.

I don’t know why, but my wife ended up giving me the duty of purchasing new bedsheets that Wednesday. (I know, where is this going?) We washed them prior to hitting the sack Thursday and put them on our bed. They were the hottest, most uncomfortable sheets I’ve ever slept on. Didn’t fall asleep until 3:30 a.m. Friday morning as a result.

Woke up 3 hours later and was ready to roll. Wife and kids took a trip to Hertz rental with me and dropped me off. We said our byes and gave our kisses at 8 a.m. when the rental place opened up. Hertz was quick on the transaction and I was out the door with our pre-ordered rental car — a 2017 white Nissan Rogue — by 8:15 a.m.

I reached Matty V’s house by 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, and Jimmy and Joey met us there for convenience. We all got loaded into the vehicle, with snacks, beverages, lunch sandwiches, TV, Nintendo, and all the rest of the needs for this epic trip.

I took the wheel the entire trip there. Matty manned the music selection and navigations in the front passenger seat. Jimmy and Joey took backseat with the ability to get a couple games in. We quickly discovered that my power outlet adaptor that we hooked up to the car had a short in it, as they were only able to get in a couple games. We hadn’t even reached Indianapolis before they finally said “screw it, no Tecmo for the rest of the way.” And that was perfectly OK with me. The conversations were wonderful, Jimmy was able to nap as he works a third-shift job at a beer and wine distributing plant. Joey was simply Joey — God love the youngest brother.

Halfway through the trip, we jammed on some 1990-2000s genre music, that included Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, Staind, and the likes. Matty V. wanted to listen to some NSync and some other stupid crap. Whatever. But that didn’t tickle our music-intensified needs. The next genre — Cash Money Records — thumped through the speakers for the next 3.5 hours. Without a doubt, the reason why this trip turned epic. We were jacked up. Ready to roll.

We drove 2 hours to the wast of Chicago to avoid a slew of tolls and the early Friday city rush hour traffic. We spent $3.80 in tolls round trip and Cash Money Records said “Bling, Bling.”

We were making killer time thanks to Matty’s Waze app. Every single notification of law enforcement sitting stationary clocking traffic was beaten by us. I cruised at a steady 79 MPH the entire way. We only made 1 stop on the way up there for a routine bathroom stop. We had hit the road at 9:15 a.m. EST and were approaching the Madison suburbs at around 3:30 p.m. CST.

The Rogue pulled into Madison East’s Super 8 hotel at around 3:45 p.m. Stepped out of the vehicle after parking and immediately heard a familiar voice. Mort. I smiled from ear to ear. Said he was making his way to Retro Night early. We were right behind him. We got to room 323 and settled in. Hooked up the Nintendo. Did a shot of Moonshine. Cracked open a beer. It felt great. Since we had packed a lunch on the way up, we didn’t immediately eat dinner (which ended up screwing me at the end of the night). Kyle and Eric Kuhlman, brothers from the Columbus, Ohio area hooked up with us around 4:30 p.m. and said they were heading out to Retro Night. Matt and Jimmy hung back crushing some alcohol and slinging the 8-bit pigskin for a bit. Joey and I caught a ride with the Kuhlman’s in their Mustang rental car. It was freaking sweet. Got to Red Zone at 5 p.m. on the dot. Soaked in the setting when we walked inside. Made some shakes and hugs with Dave F’n Murray, Segathon, RetroNate, Louis and Mort, Knobbe, O’Dell, O’Toole to start. I brought my Tecmo trading cards created by the North Dakota elite and proceeded to get autographs from every Tecmo player I could find. Before I got too hammered, I got 25 autographs — every single player that was printed on a card. Only missed out on the cards of players who were not going to make the trip this year. I even brought the Tecmo Bowl episode CD that the NFL Films crew sent us and had the Holzbauer’s, Mort, Matt, Jimmy and myself sign it in permanent silver marker. I will be mailing it to Sobhi for him to sign. Someone told me he was going to make the trip. But heard later that it was a rumor. The CD will be framed in professional format and stashed in my Tecmo man cave.

I got in an intense battle of Mario Kart SNES style with Bailey, who kicked ass at it. That was fun. I initially sat down at the SNES Mario Kart station prior to playing Bailey and got the top time-trial time on the first course in Mushroom Cup with a 1:05:67 using Donkey King. Pat on back.

I made some more rounds, meeting a ton of new Tecmoers. I played one of the Allison brothers from Canada. Really cool guys. Funny story to come regarding the other Allison brother who I didn’t play Friday. Met a guy named Mike DeBella, who had been open to suggestions on how to handle the tournament and its atmosphere. I told him to take in the fun, don’t play to win, play to learn the game, and make Tecmo friends. He thanked me Saturday during the tournament, and it felt good to hear that a newer tourney player was willing to soak in the experience rather than sling their competitive wang around.

Around 9 and 10 p.m. Friday it starts to get a little blurry. I remember Matt, Jimmy and Joey heading off with Coconuts and Joe Moskwa to sling some darts. That was a pre-planned gig they had scheduled on social media weeks before. They said they had a blast. I don’t know who came out victorious though. I grabbed some more pick-up games and decided to watch some of the NBA Jam Tourney competition. There’s probably a reason why I didn’t get in it. To boot, the Tetris dudes were ridiculous — maxing out the scoreboard. That was cool to watch.

I remember during one of my pick-up games when one of the bartenders stopped, saw my Redskins man-purse satchel I had on me and proceeded to tell me a story about how one of his friends got out of a speeding ticket (while intoxicated in Washington DC back in the day) by saying he was Chip Lohmiller. I didn’t care if he was yanking my chain. I laughed my ass off.

From here on out, I don’t remember a thing. Although my wife called me after My brother Jimmy posted a Snapchat on my standing up passed out in the hotel elevator. I think this is where not eating dinner effed me horribly. Maybe? Eh. Pretty sure, possibly, we got back to the hotel around midnight.

I woke up at around 7:30 a.m. cold as hell. I guess I got up in the middle of the night and opened the window to our room. We cranked the heat to warm up the joint. Before hitting the shower, I took a chug out of our quart of Moonshine, which was almost gone. We decided to finish the rest of it at 8:15 a.m. and Jimmy and Joey grabbed the controllers for a game.

We all were ready to head over to Red Zone for the festivities. Got there early because we wanted a decent parking spot. Worked out well. Matt said he wasn’t drinking at all during the tournament, and he held his word. I was impressed.

I asked Bailey and Murray if they needed some help with anything but they insisted they had things under control. Haven’t managed a tourney of this magnitude before but I’m familiar with the tourney setup struggles. They were good to go.

Hung around and chatted up with the North Dakota dudes. I constantly tell them we need to move our states closer in order for us to get to Burning Mort gigs. Gosh I want to go so badly. We even talked about how Flo should get a Ryder Cup going in Chicago. That would be rad. Probably as centrally located as you’re going to get right there. Flo? You in?

Anywho. Tourney time. I awaited the call on who I was playing in my group. I knew I was TV 37 in the Hunter Region. That’s all I knew as I only focused on hearing my name and where. Two guys came up to me said they were in my group. Jamien Allison was one of them. The other was a nice fellow named Chuck. Here’s where the funny story comes into play regarding my Friday night mention. I played Jamien’s brother on Friday. Jamien and I took to the controllers as he was adamant on playing immediately. So I called SD-WAS. He took SD. The Skins played some good D, picking Tolliver off 3 times. I was happy with holding Butts to 113 yards. Skins came out victorious 27-7. As I recording the game on our score sheet, I was informed that Jamien was, unfortunately, not in my group. He was on TV 36. Poop. Mentally, that first game is exhausting, as you want to get out on the right foot. But regardless, I felt good. We decided to make sure the correct guys were in the right groups. Tim O’Neill and Chuck Doehr were set to play in our group. Chuck (CLE) 21, Tim (GB) 14. I didn’t watch the game, as I tried to catch one of my brothers play. We were all on opposite game schedules. Oh, well.

I (7 seed) played Chuck. Really nice fellow. Bought me a Coors Light before our game. He chose PIT-PHX. I went with PIT. Snagged 3 interceptions in this one as well. And held the Cardinals to under 90 yards offense. Came out on top 31-7.

Last game was against Tim. I chose ATL-PHX. He picked Falcons. Cardinals had a decent rushing attack and passing attack combined, which resulted in a 29-3 win.

If all had panned out, I’d be playing Matt Heechy (10 seed). It did.

Had a hiatus to catch up with the brothers. Found out Jimmy and Matt went 2-0 in their groups. Joey (18 seed) went 1-1 and was placed in the Silver bracket. Dude was bummed. Joey unfortunately was ousted in a BUF-HOU matchup that I think was out of his element.

Matt (4 seed) said he was playing pretty well and felt good. Jimmy (8 seed) said the same. Jimmy, however, knew going in that he’d play Player if each went 2-0 and they did. Jimmy watched a couple of his games online. But that didn’t help, as he took an early exit in the Round of 64.

Matty won his first match in the Round of 64 against SammieSmith. I played Heechy and won in a WAS-MIN matchup that I called. I figured I’d get my favorite matchup call out of the way to build some momentum. This was a controlled game and I was able to pull it out by a two possession game. Unfortunately wasn’t able to remember the score. And didn’t snag a screenshot.

That set up a matchup against Toolie — who put me out in TecmoXIII the year before. Toolie called a NE-SEA game. I chose NE because I enjoy playing with them. Not a fan of SEA. Our games are always good ones. We are both conservative and play the game according to downs. This one was no different. From recollection, Toolie had control of the game until I tossed a TD to take a lead that he’d eventually take back on a game-winning field goal at the end. I was bummed about the loss because, like most of us Tecmoers, I felt like I was playing my best. A couple days later, I had to reach out to Toolie because it didn’t really hit me until then that I may have been a little too bummed about the loss immediately following it. It’s uncharacteristic of me to act any certain way after a loss and I wanted to make sure I didn’t come across as snubbish after our game. He told me he didn’t have any issues with the way I acted and that reassured me.

Aside from Matty V, Toolie became my second favorite Matt on the night. I was pulling for him. Toolie reaches the Elite 8 and it was a well-deserving run he put on.

Now that myself, Joey and Jimmy were eliminated, the #VogtUniverse was created. We went on a recruiting spree, snagging whoever was willing to cheer for Matt from the Sweet 16 on. I didn’t realize how “on point” Matt was until around here, having not watched a single game of his yet.

Matt plays Regulator in Sweet 16. What a matchup at this point in the tourney. Their playing styles tend to wear the other out early, and the other typically doesn’t gain the momentum back. Matty played the most controlled game I’ve ever seen him play. He eliminated Regulator’s high-tempo offense and was able to keep him to an offensive minimum. The #VogtUniverse was getting jacked up. The State of Washington’s finest that included Brandon Wagg and DT and company, along with Bloomington’s elite, were on board with #VogtUniverse.

Numerous cheers were created, the favorite: “Row, row, row your Vogt, gently down the stream” following an MV first down.

Matt engages in an Elite 8 matchup off stream against Coconuts. Another tough matchup. MV continued to give the Vogt Universe something to cheer about and was able to roll by to the Final Four. The guys from Bloomington — one who works for Jim Beam — began to get us hammered by offering us all double shots of Beam and Coke. Since he was a Beam rep, he was able to write everything he bought off on the company. Thanks again. Cheers!

Matt ran into his Achilles Heal — Chet. Matt fell to him once again. He still hasn’t beat him in Madison, and correct me if I’m wrong, in 5 tries. Next matchup for Matt is Mort. In an exciting game that saw just about everything, Matty didn’t take full advantage of a slew of Mort turnovers. Mort fumbled and lost the ball 3 times and tossed 2 interceptions on top of it. Playing at this point in the tourney, you just won’t bounce back from that. And Matt was able to hold on for the victory, that saw a Matty V fumble return TD on one of Mort’s punt returns. It was an epic, juke return by Matt, who knew he wasn’t able to fumble after picking it up. He took it to the house and the Red Zone erupted, as well as the Vogt Universe. I swear there were at least three drinks that were thrown in the air, raining on top of the Universe bunch after Matt crossed goalline. The loudest I had heard the Red Zone all night.

Next up in the third place game was Chet. Matty was finally able to get the monkey off his back, not only advancing to the finals at Madison, but also defeating Chet on his home turf.

JoeyGats awaited with not a single lose. Matt had to beat him twice to win it all. Matt came out hot in the first game and played some stellar defense to take game 1, creating a winner-take-all finale. And it was a game for the ages.

All that separated Matt from winning it all in game 2, was JoeyGats stopping Matt on a third-and-2 pass play. Gats prevented Matt from getting any passing lanes, forcing MV to take a sack and a loss of a 10 yards, not only pushing him out of field goal range, but making Matt commit to going for it on fourth-and-long. Matty couldn’t covert, and Joey was able to hang on for his third straight Madison title — an unfathomable feat to say the least. Matt didn’t hang his head. On the way home, he asked, “How much better could I have played this weekend?” In Tecmo, there’s no answer to that question.

The night concluded with some laughs and a couple shots. EatShitOrenga hung around with us and Flo at the front bar before heading back to the hotel. Orenga purchased shot for those loitering around and we celebrated the fact that Tecmo Madison is still in existence. What a fun night and what a better way to cap it off.

We ordered pizza, had a couple more beers back at the hotel and finally called it a night, hoping to get a good amount of sleep in order for us to wake up early enough to start the trek back to Cincinnati.

The ride home consisted of us sulking over Matt’s lack of winning Tecmo Madison and watching the entire live stream archive. That was fun. The broadcast from Bailey and Jimmie was fantastic and on point. Just as fun to listen to them, than to watch it.

Numerous reasons why the Tecmo Madison tourney trip ranks as one of my favorite highlights of the year. But this year was different — all four Vogt brothers were able to get time away from everyday life and relive some past glories that occurred in our childhood home. Ironically, within these next couple months, we will be parting ways with that home of 36 years. Matt and his wife moved out of that house when they recently purchased their dream home a couple months ago. All I can think of are all the memories we shared in that house pertaining to Tecmo. And those memories are no different when made in Madison.

Long. Live. Tecmo.

 

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