Hallelujah.......It's week zero for Tennessee High School Football! Let the games begin! With several teams in our area kicking off their 2012 season this evening, it's finally "Football Time In Tennessee." Roads all across the volunteer state lead to Cookeville for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Bowl in early December; that's when state champions are crowned in each classification.
When high school football begins, everything becomes magical. Every team is undefeated; every team has a chance for the playoffs to determine those state championships. There are certain scents that you only smell this time of year; fresh cut grass on the field, hamburgers cooking on grills just outside the concession stand, popcorn in the popper inside each concession stand, homemade chili in the crock pots to go on your hot dogs or nachos.....it all smells great, even the sweaty sidelines and the unmistakable smell of "icy hot".
And the sounds of football on Friday nights...............the bands playing, the leather popping, coaches and players alike screaming, cheerleaders cheering, the crowd going wild, whistles blowing, and of course the horn on the scoreboard sounding the end of each quarter of play.
Those who played high school football as well as those who coached it know exactly what I'm talking about. Making memories on Fridays in the fall is something that practically all of us can relate to. A select few of these Friday night warriors will be able to play college football on Saturdays after graduation, and a small, small group even play on Sundays in pro football, but every single one of them remembers fondly playing high school football.
For players and coaches, there is a special bond that is formed in the pre-season every year. It's almost like a brotherhood, in fact some players say it is a brotherhood; a bond that keeps you close to each other all your lives, just because you were teammates.
A lot of communities, especially in smaller areas, seem to be built around their high school football program.
South Pittsburg, Calhoun and Signal Mountain come to mind, but there are others. With football being played at the beginning of each school year, having a winning team gets the entire year off to a great start. The student body is always excited as their walks down the halls seem to have a "quicker" pace with a winning team.
I always tell high school athletes, "Enjoy it while you can. Don't miss out on a single thing, because it will be over before you know it." They always seem to agree, but they really dread thinking about it. On the other hand, I never tell an athlete about the many lessons he will learn from playing high school football. He'll figure that out on his own.
The late, great Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant is one of the most quoted sports figures of all time. I have so many favorites, that I really can't choose which one I like best, so here's one of best quotes. "You must learn how to hold a team together. You must lift some men up, calm others down, until finally they've got one heartbeat. Then, you've got yourself a team."
Good luck to all players, coaches, officials, administrators, parents and fans. Let the games begin!
Randy Smith email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).