I was fired up to see that the KHSAA and Governor Beshear gave the green light to high school football this fall. I can say through vast amounts of experience working with the KHSAA that Commissioner Julian Tackett and staff thoroughly researched and analyzed every possible scenario to include multiple contingencies prior to making that decision. And, be rest assured that student-athlete safety was paramount.
There is absolutely nothing like fall Friday nights across Kentucky. The Sweet 16 is the Commonwealth’s premier event; however, Kentucky is a football state. Stadiums in small towns and metropolitan areas are packed on a weekly basis. High school football is the last time that a team is comprised of players with the “Us vs. Them” mentality. Teammates have likely known each other for the majority of their lives. It’s just special. Taking a line from the SEC, “It just means more.”
I often have fond sports memories. My best recollections are of those that transpired in the dirt of Harold Schrout Memorial Stadium. Grass on the field was nonexistent starting in October. Every game was a mud game. I can recollect long bus rides as the yellow hounds transported us to competitions all across the Commonwealth.
I’ve never discussed this before and probably shouldn’t now, but I want to paint an accurate picture of how special high school football is and how much it means to its participants. Here goes.
I’ve had a reoccurring dream for the past 30 years. It always involves football, high school football to be exact. The dreams vary but have the same theme. An example is that I can see a stadium’s lights illuminating the cool, fall night. I can often see and hear the crowd. I can smell the popcorn. But, there is always a barrier that prevents me from playing the game. I never play the game.
A couple more examples are, the gate to the locker room is locked and nobody has a key. We can never get inside the stadium. The team bus often gets lost and we can’t get there even though I can see the field’s lights illuminating the stadium. Another strange one is that I lose my helmet or jersey and am not allowed on the field. Strange, huh? We lost in the state championship in my last game. Maybe these dreams indicate unfinished business?
Unfinished business. We have lost several members from that championship team. Far too many funerals which are always followed by promises to keep in touch that are often broken. Maybe I just miss my friends and have regrets of not doing a better job of staying in touch.
I’m incredibly happy that the seniors get to finish what they started. I heard a song today that is so fitting as we edge closer to the opening games. I love high school football.
Lyrics from Kenny Chesney’s Boys of Fall
When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass
I’m back in my helmet, cleats, and shoulder pads
Standing in the huddle, listening to the call
Fans going 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
The kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall
Well it’s turn to face the stars and stripes
It’s fighting back them butterflies
It’s call it in the air, alright
Yes sir, we want the ball
And it’s knocking heads and talking trash
It’s slinging mud and dirt and grass
It’s I got your number, I got your back
When your back’s against the wall
You mess with one man, you got us all
The boys of fall
In little towns like mine, that’s all