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Friday night football remains same

By By Robert Blankenship
Advance Managing Editor
The wait is finally over. Football season is here again and there is something new and exciting in the air.
The workweek suddenly goes by a little faster and there is no more debating what we will be doing each weekend.
There is no doubt people in this corner of the world have a true devotion to football. When we aren't watching it we are talking about it just so the time goes by faster between games. Football has the ability to make the most mild-mannered person jump up and down and scream at the top of their lungs and the most patient and understanding of us throw our hands in the air questioning coaches and players who know much more about what is going on.
Sometimes, we fans do get a little out of hand especially when we are talking about high school football. The young men who work so hard during practice and the coaches who have watched them sweat and improve want to win the games more than anyone. Certainly, mistakes are made and decisions are second-guessed. But, too often we dwell on those moments instead of accepting them and moving on.
We should be happy with the simple fact that we have young people here who are still interested in playing ball and practice constantly to give the spectators a few hours of entertainment each week.
But, they are not the only people who make our Friday night rituals come together year-after-year. In fact, there are many teachers, parents, students, business sponsors and volunteers who make small-town high school football so special.
The band that practices and practices to make sure they hit every note deserves some credit. Whether it is their halftime performances or their ditties in the stands, they bring a stadium to life and help lift the spirit of everyone on their side of the field. They bring people to their feet and lead the praise after the team puts the ball in the end zone.
The cheerleaders work just as hard as anyone to get ready for the football season. I can't imagine what it is like to have to stand on your feet for three hours with the single task of motivating the crowd to get in the ball game and support their team. When the team is looking good and driving down field it may be an easy task, but most of the time they probably have the hardest job in the stadium.
And what is a football game without the familiar fragrance of hot dogs and sodas. Talk about a tough job. These parents who volunteer their time to sell concessions really deserve a pat on the back. While standing in line on occasion, I have watched them run around from the soda fountain, to the candy, back to the counter, to the cash register, then to the hamburgers and back to the counter where they may get an opportunity to catch their breath and wipe the sweat from their forehead. These folks work hard all week at their normal job and then volunteer to do this as a kick off to their weekend. That's devotion to their children, to the school system and to their community.
There are many people who help make these games seem so familiar. The public address announcer whose voice becomes a permanent vibration in our memory. The coaches jostling headset wires and barking directions at the players and the older gentleman with a baseball cap who sits in the same seat each week all become part of visions and sounds that we connect with high school just as much as homework and prom.
For some reason, no matter where you live these things remain the same. The mascot may be different and the size of the stadium may be bigger, but the expectations, excitement and camaraderie of a community coming together are still there. There is a feeling of security and confidence that comes with familiar surroundings and the joy of being a part of something.
For those looking for the fountain of youth, I suggest looking to the nearest high school football stadium. But, you have to be quick because it's only there on Friday nights.