Fall is a favorite season for many.
There are many reasons. People enjoy fall because once it truly gets here, the afternoon temperatures are not as stifling. That in itself is a reason to make fall a favorite season.
The colors of fall are also pleasing to the eyes and senses. The brightness of leaves, especially in the north Georgia mountains, are worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. Orange, yellow, brown and red seem to rival a portrait painted on fine canvas.
Football, and high school football more specifically, has always been the perfect partner for fall. We all know the early-season games still feel like summer. That’s mainly because the first few games are played in the dead of summer, but we won’t veer off on that discussion now.
Usually once we reach October, we have all felt that first bit of cooler air early in the morning. That experience typically causes a one-word reaction “fall.”
High school football was a big part of my life as a child. From my earliest memories of attending games for the school I attended, being at the stadium on Fridays in the fall was a tradition that grew on me more with each game and with each season.
It’s really amazing because there would only be five regular-season home games a year. Of course my school had talented teams through the years so that meant maybe an extra home game or two. My school also has hosted state championship games and that only made the experience more special.
We didn’t attend every away game simply because some were too far off for us to drive to after my father got home from work. However, if the game was within a reasonable distance, we often made the trip.
One fall, my father, myself, my brother, a childhood friend and cousin all loaded up for a road playoff game. The excitement was at a fever pitch by the time we got to the field and kickoff arrived.
High school football is a time-honored tradition across our country. Movies have been made about it. Books have been written about it. Television shows have been produced focusing on a local high school program. Those things aren’t done unless high school football connects with a ton of people.
In covering the sport for more than three decades for various community newspapers, I have made many friends and each season has special memories. When I began covering the games there was no social media. That certainly has changed now as Facebook, Twitter and even newspaper websites are part of a reporter’s duties now.
While certainly other reporters have been on the beat longer and of course many cover it better, I’ve always considered myself a meat and potatoes sports journalist. Covering the many aspects of a game is something you don’t see as much now in the larger publications. For whatever reason, they don’t deem high school football as important enough to invest resources in.
Thankfully for newspapers like the one you are reading this column in, that is not the case. High school football means a lot to communities like this one.
Players spend countless hours in 2019 preparing for a new season. Work begins for a new campaign almost as soon as one season ends. It’s definitely a 12-month commitment now.
Often as I sit in the press box on Friday nights waiting for kickoff, my mind ventures back to past games attended, to past road trips and to all of the past memories. I’ve had the good fortune of covering games in every part of our state, from north to south, from east to west.
Kickoff is at hand for another year and it signals that fall is truly not far away. Fall and football are as natural a combination as pie and ice cream or popcorn and butter.
Football has evolved as well since 1988 when I first tried my hand at writing up reports for my hometown paper. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 30 years.
One thing is for sure: it’s great to have high school football here again. It’s been far too long since the Friday Night Lights were turned on.