Saturday Morning Quarterback

Season begins, memories await
Aug 24, 2013

 

Kids love Christmas and summertime. For football fans, this is both rolled into one.

They've been waiting months for the opening of football season. They've anxiously stood in the hot sun to watch the Titans practice. They've paid big money to watch preseason games. The local TV anchors [though not the sports guys] refer to Titan appearances at LP Field as "the big game", even in August.

Locally, it's a big deal, too. The first practices of high school season always find a few "dads" in the stands or wherever they can see the action. I've seen dozen of fans sit in the Robinson Stadium stands to watch the Watertown Purple Tigers practice.

They want to know when the first and next scrimmage is and how the team did? The stands at Robinson Stadium were almost packed when Monterey came in to face the Purple Tigers a couple of Friday nights ago. Hey, there was no admission charge.

Coaches notice and schedule jamborees to rake in some of that money. And they often make it a point to promote it. Even when the team isn't at home, ticket sales at their school stays with that school.

Of course, when you arrive at the stadium, the lights may be turned on, the teams are in full game uniform and the scoreboard and clock are operating for the first time all fall. But it's just a glorified scrimmage. At the end of the night, everyone who shouted about the jamboree before the fact couldn't even tell you the score.

No games are more eagerly anticipated or quickly forgotten than the preseason scrimmages.

Then the season really kicks off and the games start to count. By halftime, no one remembers who won that scrimmage or preseason game two weeks ago. Tonight is what's important, then next week and the following week and…

As former Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander used to say, if the team keeps winning, the upcoming games become more important.

Another former Cumberland coach, Herschel Moore, would say it's the last game that people remember. He liked to recount the story of one of his Stratford teams from the 1960s which had a great season and qualified for the Clinic Bowl. But the Spartans lost the bowl game, putting a damper on what had been a great season up until then. The reverse is also true, a bad season can taste better with a win or two to finish it off.

In our championship-driven society, the last game - Super Bowl, BCS championship [or its replacement starting next season] - is what will be remembered forever.

But to get to the final game, teams have to win starting, at least in high school, starting now.

Sometimes, that first game has too much meaning. Lebanon fans have awaited Thursday's season-opener for months as they watch to see how new coach Sam Harp will mold the Blue Devils into the image of his Kentucky champions. For years, the Lebanon-Mt. Juliet season-opener was so eagerly anticipated that the loser often didn't recover for the remaining nine games.

The late Randy Vanatta told me back in the mid-1980s he wished Lebanon and Mt. Juliet played at the end of the season. Since the Blue Devils were on a losing streak to their West Wilson rivals at the time, they often started 0-1 and in an emotional hole before the more-important district games began. The big game was played, but there are nine more to go.

But win or lose, the season has kicked off. Let the memories start building.

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