Over 15 years ago on a day like today, my excitement would be at an all-time high. Why, because 15 years ago, I would be getting ready to start my final season of high school football.
The day would start with me getting dressed, which included wearing my number 80 jersey. I would eat breakfast and my father would tell me good luck since he would not see me again until after the game.
School on Fridays would drag along and seem like they would never end. Although there were the pep rallies and cheerleaders, band, with skits.
When school finally ended we all gathered at the field house and rested to play in a few short hours. The monotony was only broken up by a pregame meal and position meetings.
About an hour before the game, I would start to get dressed. Putting on my girdle (one used for football) making sure my hip and butt pads were adjusted to my liking.
Next thing I put on was the sliming black pants we wore and more adjusting of thigh and knee pads. Then it was my favorite part, going in the training room to get my ankles taped (on a side note, I still can't grow hair where the tape jobs used to be).
Finally the helmet would go on with more adjusting. Before the game, we didn't wear shoulder pads.
We would go out in groups determined by our positions. Kickers and quarterbacks first, next backs and wide receivers and finally me with the linemen as a tight end.
My excitement would rise even more as we stretched, ran plays against air, and worked on catching the ball. After working up a good sweat we would go back inside to get on our shoulder pads and wait.
Pregame festivities would go on while we waited. Standing outside we could hear the national anthem, some guys grew more silent and some sang the words as it played.
Finally we would walk down as a team, stand under the uprights of the field goal post. The crowd would cheer, the band would be playing loud and proud.
Butterflies were always in my stomach as my body was in fight or flight mode. Finally we would tear through the paper with some sort of knock against our opponent.
The game was nearly ready to start and the stands were filled to the top with the over flow against the fence. Finally we would kick the ball off and one of the happiest times of my life would begin anew.
I have fond memories of high school football. In reality, my school, Florence was not very good.
After a 5-6 record my freshman year, the next two years we would go 0-22. There were four to five weeks in a row where we got beaten 63-0.
I will not lie. I cried after those losing seasons. I never wanted to play again but after a few days, I would be back in the weight room getting back to work to get better.
Our senior year started out with more loses. I would miss the end of the season with a staph infection that required surgery.
While laid up in a hospital bed, I missed my teammates win their first game in two in a half years. In a 17-0 win over the Bailey Knights and our long suffering losing streak was over.
Football is a tough game. It takes a physical toll (I have a bum shoulder and have had knee surgery) but if I could go back I would do it all over again.
I loved playing and that love with the support of Lacey (my wife, not JFP reporter) has led me to sports writing. There will be hundreds of players like me suiting up this Friday night.
Their careers are going to end after the final quarter of the final game ends. I will admit that my support system in high school helped.
My parents tried to make it to every home game and close road games. The community we lived in came out and supported us on Friday nights.
Not everyone was there to see football either. Some came to support the band or cheerleaders. The whole community is was involved in trying to help us be successful.
High school football starts again tonight. If you can, go out and support your community by going to the game.
Support students who are playing in the band, on the field or cheerleading. Support from the community lets these kids know that their hard work matters.
All of the activities that go happen on Friday nights help keep kids out of trouble. It also helps in the classroom since kids have to keep their grades up to stay eligible.
Be a part of your community and support kids who play for the love of the game. No one is getting paid and no TV. Tonight is about a bunch of kids who love to play on the field or an instrument in the stands.
Sports are the one place you will see different races working together for a common goal. That goal is trying to bring a win home for their families, community, and themselves.
Wondering where to find a game tonight? Below is a list of the metro area teams, playing at home or close to home tonight.
(All games start at 7:30PM for the first 2 months of the season due to the heat)
Callaway at Northwest Rankin
Yazoo County at Florence
Pelahatchie at Pisgah
Olive Branch at Madison Central
Wingfield at Canton
Mendenhall at Ridgeland
Yazoo City at German Town (first season ever for German Town)
Meridian at Clinton
McComb at Terry
Forest Hill at Provine
Raymond at Hinds AHS
If your going to a game tonight, feel free to tweet me @jfpsports the scores to the game. Let me know what quarter it is as well. Pleas use the hash tag #mshsfootball I will retweet scores all night long. I will also post them on my facebook page.
Enjoy the games and good luck to every player as their season starts tonight.
- Bryan Flynn
Why don't we use a hashtag like #jxnfootball, Bryan?
That sounds fine to me. I was just trying to be inclusive to the whole state. That way if other places wanted to tweet me scores they could and not feel like we didn't care about them.
There is a certain paper in Jackson that only caters to South Panola, Madison Central, and a few of the bigger schools. I was trying to let others know that we are one Mississippi.
- Bryan Flynn
Hashtags are cheap. ;-) Just have them use #msfootball or both if they're in Jackson. Also, let's publish the best high-school football tweets each week in the paper and on the blog.
Sounds good to me. I like separating it bit so people know the difference but I did not want to alienate the rest of the state.
I know I think big and think we can do it better than other papers.
- Bryan Flynn
Bring on the football issue, Bryan. Donna and I can't wait on the season to start so we can see the Steeler Nation get revenge along with its 7the Super Bowl trophy. The Saints will have a terrible season. I saw what the Texans did to them. I hope the Cowboys go 0 and 16. Roethylberger is married and focused this year. Needless to say we're going to beat alot of tail this year.