The PickrenZONE No. 10

Friday Night Thoughts
by Dave Pickren
August 23, 2001

 . . . . . For the most part, I love the game and the emotion of high school football. Nothing today can bond a community and school together like football. The football game event involves so many students both male and female and gives such an incredible opportunity for both to grow as leaders and to participate in a tradition that stretches back for generations. It is about them and at the same time it is bigger than any one individual. It is about being part of something or some place that is greater than just being an individual player, or cheerleader or band member. It is about striving for the common goal, about growing together as a team. 

It is about life.

This is our way of life and part of what makes the SOUTH a special place for me to live. This is what makes me proud to be a Southern. Family and Friends, teamwork, commitment, tradition, honor. These are the values of South Carolina and what makes our home a special place to live. And nothing in our society exemplifies these attributes like High School Football. It defines us.

So now we are ready for another season and kickoff is just days away. Down at the local diner you can hear the locals talking about the upcoming season. These guys should know, they haven't missed a game in 40 years. In every corner of the state you see these same people who never miss a beat. They have been to every practice and every jamboree. They know what to expect and for them Friday night can not get here fast enough. You look at the schedule, a WIN here, a toughie on the road, another WIN here, Homecoming here, a long trip there; it is going to be tough to win the region

Slowly throughout South Carolina towns transform for Friday night football. The local shops change their signs to read GO INDIANS, GO BULLDOGS, and YELLOW JACKET PRIDE. Tickets are bought, ads sold for the programs and the concession stand is restocked for another season. Regardless what the thermometer says, you swear it is getting cooler outside and fall is just around the corner. Finally the big day is here. It is opening night.

To me nothing compares to Friday nights, the smell of autumn and the crispness of the cooling air. Behind the stands, the flag girls are practicing their routines one last time as the band continually tunes their instruments. The cheerleaders are warming up and looking around as the crowd and students slowly fill the stands. The players are running drills and a nervous coach is chatting with his counterpart while keeping one eye on the opposition's star tailback. All of this is occurring simultaneously as the sun starts to fade and the lights start to take effect on another Friday night.

Everyone is dreaming of the first weekend in December and a trip to Williams - Brice in Columbia. All the teams are undefeated and every coach thinks he is one break away from the Promised Land. Players think of what it would feel like to win a State Championship Ring and follow in the foot steps of great players like Stephen, Roscoe, Anthony, Derrick and Woody. Is a run down the hill or out to the sounds of 2001 in my future? 

The butterflies start and kickoff is near.

Walking thru the stands prior to kickoff , you see people you only see on Football Friday night and you talk about old times and seasons gone by...........trying to out coach the coach, out guess the experts, and finding a way to predict a path to victory is always on the tip of everyone's tongue. 

The band takes the field, the National Anthem is played, a prayer for safety is offered, and like it has for so many Friday nights before; another game is here. Cheerleaders cheer, a band plays a fight song, fans scream and clap, and another banner is run through and destroyed by the hyped-up, charging team.

For many young people Friday nights are a rite of passage, a chance to prove themselves and be tested in a way they never have been before and in a way they may never be again. It is inclusive, participatory and required for all members of the community. Atmosphere, emotion, family, community and friends, this is high school football.

All before the game even begins.

Dave Pickren
The PickrenZONE


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