This past week I had the opportunity to head over to the Union Fairground to watch two of the most storied high school programs in the state square off in a classic match up. Between the Gaffney Indians and Union Yellow Jackets, the two schools share nearly 20 state championships and over 1000 wins.
As we drove down Highway 176 into the city of Union, you can't help but notice how the entire town is dedicated and supportive of the beloved Yellow Jackets. From the water tower painted Gold and Black to the Yellow Jacket Family Restaurant just a long punt away from the west end zone, everyone and every place is dressed up for the battle with the Indians.
This is the way it is supposed to be.
Union County Fairgrounds stretches from one end zone to the other and the place is always packed. Gaffney, despite a 1-2 start, jammed the visitor's stands and were standing 6 deep around the fence. The players were introduced one by one and the biggest cheer of the night goes out to Eric Young, the fantastic 6-8, 300 lb offensive linemen. Gaffney comes running out as the band plays "Fight for Ole DC." As I stand on the sideline and take in the whole scene, I think how crazy this whole scenario might be, even a little hokey. But then you see 10,000 people supporting the teams and their civic pride shows and you realize that the purity of High School Football might be the last true bastion of sport remaining.
The game was not overly exciting. Union is a dominating team and Gaffney continues to struggle with injuries and inconsistent play. What made the game special however was the way in which this game ended. After the game both teams shook hands, a few players gathered together for a quick prayer for an injured teammate, the coaches shook hands, a few reporters worked for a quote from the Head Coaches in order to meet their deadline and fans for both schools went onto the field to talk with their favorite players.
After all the negatives that have been surrounding sports the past few weeks, it was great to see this game conclude the right way. But the truth of the matter is that 99.9% of the games are done the right way. The problem is we seem to dwell on the negative and controversy rather than celebrate what is good with our sport. I guess it is an indictment on our society that we will read and write dozens of articles on the bad but completely ignore the good.
But Friday night at Union County Fairground was good. It was right and both Gaffney and Union showed us why High School Football is the greatest game on grass.
Note: Dave Pickren is the publisher of the high school websitewww.scpigskinprep.com. The site is dedicated to recognizing the top players and teams from around the Palmetto State. Check out the site for daily updates from around the state and features on the happenings in high school football.