Written by: Shane Warren, Publisher
No disrespect to the bigger cities and their version of high school football, but there’s a certain charm to Friday nights in a small town, and it just can’t be copied on a metropolitan level.
Usually, there’s a dad who takes it upon himself to personally mow the field and retouch the yard lines before every home game. (His son plays on the team, and by George, the home field will not be outshined by those showboats over in the next county.)
On Friday afternoon, school closes with a pep rally in the gym, where each class competes to win “the spirit stick.” This is basically a wooden dowel from Home Depot, painted in the school colors and waved about to whip the students—all wearing their “badges”—into a spirited frenzy as the team and head coach strolls onto the gym floor and takes their seats. Speeches from the coach and the quarterback assure victory.
On game night, parents of the players and cheerleaders run the concession stand—there’s only one—which serves hamburgers and hotdogs with mustard, ketchup, and onions. Maybe pickles. (If you want more than that, you need to get yourself on over to the Dairy Queen and pay the big bucks.) Coffee, Dr. Pepper, Popcorn. HECK YEAH!! And if we’re really lucky, the game can be heard on the local AM radio station (reference to the television series, Friday Night Lights).
And this always brings joy to my heart! A town’s pastor will be called upon to give an opening prayer for both teams. The National Anthem was sung by one of the prettiest homecoming queens that you have ever seen!
Of course, the real pageantry is reserved for Homecoming. Every class gets to enter a parade float, built on flatbed trucks skirted with chicken wire that has been stuffed with tissue paper. Judging takes place right before the parade, which stops in the center of town to let the cheerleaders bail off the local fire truck and lead a few cheers at the main intersection.
Actually, the parade runs out of town streets fairly quickly and extends its reach by traveling some county road that may, or may not be paved. (But that works out fine because the distance between houses gives the queen and her court, perched on the back of borrowed convertibles, a chance to stop waving and rest their arms.)
Every guy is expected to spring for a mum the size of a Whataburger for his date to the homecoming dance, where there might well be as many parental chaperones as there are students.
Between the parade, the game, and the dance, the whole small town has something to talk about for at least a week or two. And in a small town where everybody knows everybody and always has, that’s what we like—-something new to talk about.
I can tell you from a Texas perspective, this is exactly the way the small towns get geared up for their small town football games. These aren’t just games and events. They are just the way of life.
Please leave a comment below and let us know about the small town football traditions in your state.It is always fun to hear about all the similar, as well as the different small town football traditions.