Friday, August 17, 2012
The games. The bands. The concession stand. It’s high school football season!
Next week, the 2012 prep football season will begin — renewing the Valley’s strong tradition of gridiron greatness. High school football in our neck of the woods is known all over the state for its quality — from top individual players to many state championship teams. Nearly every season, the Valley produces more than a dozen playoff teams. Over the last 10 years, we’ve routinely had teams still playing in Weeks 14 and 15.
I’ve always been a huge high school football fan. I didn’t play football in my teenage years, sticking mostly to running and baseball. But I didn’t miss any of our team’s games, as I was a fixture in the student section. I went to school in a suburb of Columbus in the early 1990s. Even then, football was king. We were a Division I school, had a pretty nice stadium and had some players go Division I for college ball.
Our student section was pretty loud and creative with our “cheers.” Most every school’s student section has its rants it employs during games. We’ve all heard them or seen the signs. We had ours back then and I’ve seen and heard many in the Valley, as I’ve attended, or covered games through the years.
High school football serves as one of the best tools to foster community pride. There are typically so many issues in each town that divide the residents — school levies, races for elected officials, crime, etc. But Friday nights in the fall have a way of unifying everyone as they cheer on their team. It’s really a cool phenomenon.
I don’t get out to cover as many games as I used to when I was a sports correspondent for the Vindy sports department. I definitely miss the atmosphere, the games — and the concession stands. But I do my best to keep up with what’s going on, which teams are winning and who the stars are.
Every Friday night, I’m glued to the radio listening to whichever game is being broadcast. I just have to know what’s going on. When the games end, I stay tuned in to listen to the Scoreboard show on 570 WKBN, hosted by Denny Leibert and Champ Summers (Tony Vivo).
Always near-by is my copy of the Vindy’s Blitz Picks, where I am competing against the Vindicator sports staff, plus WFMJ’s Dana Balash and Mike Ackelson for bragging rights. Before I go to bed, I know where I stacked up against those guys that week.
Starting next Friday, I’m looking forward to another season of high school football. And for many of you, I know it’s your favorite time of year, too.
Good luck to all the Valley’s football teams this season — especially Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Poland. I’ll be rooting for you. Unless, of course, I picked against you that week. Don’t take it personally — it’s all in fun.