It seems only yesterday that we were treated to 5 classic match ups last December at the Weekend of Champions in Columbia, but here we are 8 months later and everyone is ready for the 2002 season.
Tonight starts the official kick off of the season and from the coast to the mountains, around big cities and in rural towns, the talk all over the Palmetto State is on football and the upcoming season. 2002 promises to be a special season with many of the nation's top players and top teams prepping in South Carolina.
Last week while driving through Gaffney, SC, I watched an elderly gentlemen change the letters on a sign at his business to: GO INDIANS, BEAT BEARCATS. I would guess that he has been doing this same routine week after week and year after year for longer than most of us have been alive. After all he supports the team and everyone knows that Gaffney equals football. There are 2 sports in small towns like Gaffney: football season and waiting for football season. For all us fans, Friday the 30th can not get here fast enough.
Around our house in the upstate, one can tell football is just around the corner. My sons have already tried on the brand new Dorman football jersey. The stadium seats have been pulled down from storage and new batteries are in the radio. The bird and flower flag hung by wife outside the house has been replaced with a Cavalier flag and every night my 6 year old ask if tomorrow is game day.
I imagine that is what it likes around the state for all the coaches and players. For months they have worked out and lifted weights and sacrificed there summer in order to get ready for the 2002 season. Next came the brutal summer heat and the 2 a day practices. After all this work everything has been pointing to opening night and a chance to prove themselves once again under the Friday night lights.
My son, Alex, like many little boys around the state emulates these high school players. For years Alex ran around the house screaming, Touchdown Trey Rogers!!!(Ex- Dorman QB now at Wofford College). They are the heroes of his youth. I wonder if 10 or 15 years ago, a little boy named Syvelle in Bennettsville, or Demetrius in Lexington or Russell in Orangeburg or Ryan down by the coast ran around the house scoring Touchdowns, waiting for their turn to be a star, to be a hero, to be in the Friday Night Lights. Now it is their turn on the field and their chance to make a lifetime of memories. I know these players and many others will make a mark on the history book of South Carolina High School Football.
We are fortunate here in South Carolina to see high school football at it's finest. In other parts of the country there are no lights and no games as budgets are cut back. But here in the greatest state in the USA, we know how important our traditions are and how important it is to have our young people take part in these high school football events.
From the players to the band, from the cheerleaders to the pep squad, for all the students, high school football defines us in a way that nothing else can. It is about who we are and what is important to us as Southerners. It is about family and friends, schools and community, competition and teamwork. It is about us.
Spot the ball, it is game time.