Written by: Kenny Langham
You can bank on it! All across America this fall, and every fall for that matter, small towns will be lighting up Friday nights! It’s called high school football. And it’s time to see if all that hard work that started off in the August practices pays off. Small town boys wake up early each morning in August with one thing on his mind…”Let’s get ready for some football!” Granted, these same players all go home that same night beaten, tired and just worn out from the hot August sun. But hey, It’s all worth it. Because there is nothing on this earth quite like going into battle with your brothers on a Friday night!
The smell of football is in the air, and It’s only 8 a.m. Friday morning. In many small towns that means pep rally time. High school kids pack in the school gymnasium and hoop and holler as the boys from the football team strut across the floor, revving up the crowd even more. It’s a big deadgum party is what it really is. The energy from the crowd can be just what it takes to fire up the football team just enough to go out tonight and kick their next town rivals all over the gridiron!
It is just after 5 p.m. when the hometown football team meets at their field house and prepare for the upcoming game. It won’t be long after all the pregame stretches and sizing up the opponents before the butterflies set in for players and fans alike. Each team’s fans are gathering in their appropriate grandstands and the younger kids are already looking for hills to roll and tumble down.
7:30 p.m. now and it’s time for the ceremonial coin toss at midfield. The two teams shake hands and it’s time to kickoff on a field that if you didn’t know any better looks like a makeshift cow pasture. For 60 minutes the two teams will batter each other for bragging rights for the next year. The pigskin will fly up and down the field from the quarterbacks, trying to complete every pass. The running backs fighting for every extra yard that they can muster from the big defensive linemen. The cheers and screams from the small crowd every time a big play is made. And believe me, there are plenty of big plays to go around, even in a small town football game!
These are the things that I remember most about my playing days in a small, sleepy town. But trust me when I say this. When it comes to a crisp, fall Friday night, there is nothing even remotely sleepy in my hometown. Everyone from the toddlers, all the way up to the old, men, everyone is jacked up for some football to be lighting up Friday nights!
I still come back to my hometown every now and then. And every time it’s the same feeling. Chills running through my spine each time I drive past that tiny stadium. I tell my wife all the time, wow, what I would give to strap on those shoulder pads, lace up those cleats and put on that helmet just one more time and just blow up someone in the backfield! Those were some of the best days of my life.