By Doug Halberstadt
Thousands of high school football players will begin their season in earnest this week. After a month of grueling practices and drills in the heat, rain and humidity, they can actually get on the field and put those learned skills to the test. After all of the blood, sweat and bruises, the moment has finally arrived: they get to experience live action.
Gone are the tackling dummies and blocking sleds. These games are the real deal. Lining up and playing against an opponent dressed in a different color jersey and helmet, instead of a teammate, makes all the difference in the world for these players.
I doubt you’d get too many of them to admit it, but their insides will be a jumbled mess leading up to the opening kickoff and all the way through the whistle signaling the end of their first play. Those butterflies are the precursor to the adrenaline flow that becomes the driving force during the challenges that commonly occur during a game.
I wish every seat in every stadium were going to be filled this Friday night. I know that’s a wish that won’t come true. Unfortunately, there are usually plenty of available seats at most games. Once in a while, a stadium will be packed beyond capacity and you’ll see people standing to see the game. That occurs more commonly later in the season during the playoffs.
I’d like to encourage anyone looking for something to do this Friday night to take in one of the local high school football games. You don’t have to have a player on the team to go out and support these kids. Perhaps a trip back to your alma mater, or the school your son, daughter or grandchildren attend(ed). Maybe you live near one of the schools or a short drive away. Regardless of where you decide to go, be a considerate fan and cheer the efforts and the good plays made by both teams.
They are out there giving it their all for the love of the game. There is a purity in the high school game that isn’t felt at the college or professional level. These kids deserve to play all of their games in front of a packed stadium. It is up to us to make it happen. Take your wife, a neighbor, co-worker or a friend and get out to one of the games. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the thousands of high school players looking up into those stands.
Following is the slate of NIC-10 match-ups for this Friday, Aug. 29:
• Belvidere at Belvidere North, 7 p.m.
• Machesney Park Harlem at Freeport, 7 p.m.
• Rockford Auburn at Rockford Boylan Catholic, 7:15 p.m.
• Rockton Hononegah at Rockford East (game at Rockford Guilford Stadium), 7 p.m.
• Rockford Guilford at Rockford Jefferson (game at Rockford Auburn Stadium), 7 p.m.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
Posted Aug. 26, 2014