By Dave Pickren
November 30, 2001
Well it's been fun.
Odds are Saturday in Columbia will be a day to remember but around 11:00PM on Saturday night, I think many around the state including myself will be sad and wishing it was August 1 once again.
The 2001 season has been one for the ages (to steal a cliché). Who would ever predicted the wonderful games, teams and players that have entertained us for the past 4 months and have added another chapter to the rich history of South Carolina High School Football. Great players have dazzled us with their athletic moves and accomplishments. Other players have exceeded expectations and propelled their teams to great seasons and in turn have made themselves even better players. Over 10,000 young men started football on August 1 with a common goal; Williams Brice Stadium in December 2.
For most the dream died during a loss in the regular season or the playoffs but for 10 teams the dream lives on, at least for the next few days. The overwhelming majority of these young men playing on Friday and Saturday will never strap on the pads again. This will serve as the culmination for many years of practices; peewee games and countless back yard pick up games. Without a doubt the games on Saturday will be remembered for years to come, but in my mind regardless of the outcome, all the men that play on Saturday are champions and are on the way to becoming winners in life.
I want to remember and thank all those who make High School Football possible.
Thanks to the parents who sacrificed Saturday mornings for so many years to make sure your son was on time for the 8AM start for the 7 and 8-year-old league.
Thanks to the Moms out there who sacrificed their flower garden in the back yard so that the area could magically be transformed into a miniature football field where today's stars practiced all those moves late into the night.
Thanks to the Dads and other men out there who worked a full day and then went out and coached 8 year and 9 year olds in the fundamentals and appreciation of the game. I know you would have rather put your feet up and watched the tube but your sacrifice and time instilled a passion for the game into these boys. This championship is for you also.
Thanks to the cheerleaders, marching band, pep squads, drill teams and others that make the atmosphere in high school second to none. Without you the games would not be near as exciting or meaningful. Your hard work and practice make the football experience complete.
And finally thanks to the players who make the game great. In other parts of the country, high school football is dying due to kids not playing. We know how tough it is to give up half your summer, to go to school all day and then practice to 7 at night and then tackle homework. We appreciate the work it takes and the things you give up just to play. Remember that by sticking thru the hard times and being part of a team, you are already one step closer to becoming a successful man in life.
All of which brings us back to Saturday and a Weekend of Champions.
For 5 teams, Saturday will be the accumulation of a dream; all the sweat and sacrifices will be worth it as the trophy will be taken back to their hometown and raised in honor of a victorious season. Parades will be held and players will become heroes to entire towns and schools.
The other 5 teams will hang their head in disappointment. More than one 300 lb. player will be crying and coaches will try to compose their teams to accept the runner up trophy. For weeks to come coaches and players will replay the game in their minds wondering what if and what could have been.
But in the end, all who have played and all that have participated will be champions and heroes and in today's world, you can never have too many of either.
(from November 30, 2000)