High school football season begins in the heat of summer and, if your team is one of the fortunate ones, does not conclude until the nights are cold with the lines for hot chocolate long.
We are on the verge of another season locally and it’s great to see this slice of Americana ready to be served again.
At its base, football itself is quality leadership training. It helps stress the important of team over self and shows what can be accomplished when a group of individuals work and compete as one.
Each new season is similar to a new book. We may think we know at times what is going to happen but that doesn’t always prove to be the case.
Attending high school football games on Friday nights has been a long-standing tradition for me. I don’t remember the exact time I attended one in person but it was in the 1970s.
My father started taking me to the games when I was young and I was instantly hooked. At times we didn’t make all of the road games due to distance and my father’s work schedule but home games were always attended. I recently thought back on how a handful of games each year left such an impression.
As a young student I remember being excited every Friday morning there was a home game. The night before was really like Christmas Eve.
Nothing else really seemed to matter at school that day. At least it didn’t for me.
My mind was already on kickoff which was still several hours away. Home games meant a pep rally in the school gym in the afternoon and by this point I was ready for the game to start.
My alma mater had a series of strong seasons in the early 1980s and made it all the way to the state championship game one season. The state title game was played at home and I don’t think I have ever seen as many people at the local field.
The outcome was not as I hoped but that state championship game experience reeled me in even more as a fan.
By the time my days in high school were complete I began to fear I would not be able to attend games anymore. By becoming a community newspaper reporter, the problem was solved. I have been covering high school football for more than three decades now.
I’ve been to games all across our large state from the mountains to the Florida line to all areas in between. I’ve covered playoff games and state championships.
Chronicling games for print media has become somewhat of a dying art. You are fortunate the paper you are reading now still provides coverage of high school football. Not all papers, even some of the larger ones, do that anymore.
I still have articles written 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Reading them again helps me re-live those moments. I can still hear the sound from the stands and the tackles being made.
There has been plenty of water pass under the bridge since I first began attending games. It still remains a passion, however.
Kickoff for a new season is now just around the corner. Those first few games will be hot and we can only hope before the season ends for our favorite team that the night air is crisp.
High school football is one of the great American traditions that shows no signs of slowing down. Even a pandemic in recent months could not stop it. There were some adjustments of course but we still had a season.
Here’s to the 2021 season and more memories which will last a lifetime for all players, coaches, fans, parents, cheerleaders, band members and those who cook the hot dogs and hamburgers. See you at the game.
Chris Bridges is a former sports editor of The Walton Tribune and The Covington News. He welcomes comments about this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.