Each year there is always a certain excitement when the first high school football games are played in late summer.
I have been attending and covering games either for newspaper, radio or free-lance writer now for more than 35 years. I still get excited to go out and cover the games along those sidelines.
With the feel of fall in the air, even though many times warm, muggy summer temperatures linger, it is great to see all of the fans out for the games. You can still get the chill in the air as the second half rolls around and the sun sets behind the Appalachian Mountains.
You have the smell of the fresh cut grass – well, you used to. Most teams in our area now have artificial Field Turf, including Belfry and Mingo Central.
Many fans, especially the Pirate crew, will tailgate in the parking lot. There is the smell of bar-b-cue, chili and other tasty grilled delights. Not to mention brownies, fudge and other deserts.
You can hear the high school bands tuning up their instruments. I know the bands are not the numbers they used to be, but at least the few that are the members give it their best shot.
The cheerleaders have increased in numbers. In my day, a squad had 6 to 8 girls cheering, now you may have as many as 20 on the sidelines leading the cheers. Not to mention you may even have the JV squad out there encouraging their team.
The coaches are as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, wearing their school colors, trying to get the players motivated.
Special teams players come out to warm up, place kickers, punters and return specialists.
Then a half hour before game time the team rushes onto the field, usually through a hoop or large inflatable, running through a tunnel of crazed fans.
There is nothing like high school football on a Friday night.
This is small town USA at its best.
The loud music is blaring over the PA system.
As Kenny Chesney wrote in a song he penned a couple of years ago with “The Boys of Fall” …. When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass, I’m back in my helmet, cleats, and shoulder-pads, Standin’ in the huddle, listenin’ to the call, Fans goin’ crazy for the boys of fall - They didn’t let just anybody in that club, Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood, To get to wear those game-day jerseys down the hall, Kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall.
Proud parents, girlfriends, neighbors and diehard fans come out on these autumn Friday nights to watch their favorite players and to root for their alma mater.
Yes, there is something special about high school football in small towns across this great country.
It never gets old.
I’ll see you at the games.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern)