The love has re­turned to Fri­day night lights

The Covington News - - FOOTBALL PREVIEW -

I love high school foot­ball, es­pe­cially in the state of Ge­or­gia. Bear in mind that it is so much more than just the X’s and O’s. Prep foot­ball is all about com­mu­nity, tra­di­tions and the com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence both on and off the field in the purest of forms.

The emo­tion of a high school foot­ball game is pon­der­ous. You can feel the elec­tric­ity and the pas­sion in­ter­twin­ing with the cool breeze and brisk chill be­fore a clear au­tumn night that cap­ti­vate the heart and soul of all in­volved.

Over 263 schools in the state of Ge­or­gia have one goal in mind: Win the Holy Grail, which is the GHSA Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship. Ev­ery town and ev­ery city — big or small — live for the love of Fri­day night lights. Ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion at the nearby Waf­fle House or cof­fee shop, a fa­vorite wa­ter­ing hole or a fa­vorite bar­ber­shop speak in de­tail about what team will do well this sea­son, and so on and so forth.

But foot­ball is more than just any Fri­day night event; it’s an ev­ery­day re­al­ity. With­out sin­gling any­one out, I will ad­mit that I watched a prac­tice at Al­covy late one evening, study­ing se­nior of­fen­sive line­man, Keiven Rhodes.

I watched his in­ten­sity, and fo­cused on his tenac­ity for stay­ing on his blocks un­til the whis­tle blew. I watched him ex­plode af­ter a team­mate did not do what he was sup­posed to be do­ing on the field. Al­though Rhodes he has ex­pe­ri­enced ad­ver­sity and hard­ship through­out his young life, he found re­demp­tion on the grid­iron. Rhodes found his soul on the 50-yard line while yearn­ing for a vic­tory along with his team­mates who have only ex­pe­ri­enced de­feat. And like most of them, Rhodes will do what­ever it takes to win this year.

Like so many of us, we tend to for­get some­times that th­ese are stu­dent-ath­letes. Th­ese young men are cit­i­zens by day and war­riors by night. They have made a valid de­ci­sion to rep­re­sent their re­spected school with honor and pride, play­ing a game they truly love.

But it isn’t just the foot­ball team that needs en­cour­age­ment and sup­port. The cheer­lead­ers and the band need sup­port and af­fec­tion, too. Un­for­tu­nately, some­times we fail to ac­knowl­edge their in­volve­ment, al­beit off the ac­tual play­ing field.

When I played the game, I never had the op­por­tu­nity to watch the band or cheer­lead­ers per­form. But now I have tremen­dous re­spect for what they do be­cause if it weren’t for them, the Savoy of the magic of Fri­day night foot­ball would not at all be the same.

The ro­mance of the year is now upon us. I love this time of the year, and I can­not wait for the games to be­gin. This will be a his­toric sea­son re­gard­ing prep foot­ball in the city of Cov­ing­ton. Homer Sharp Sta­dium will be rock­ing all sea­son long to the tune of schools like Al­covy, East­side and New­ton bring­ing the very best and bright­est the county has to of­fer.

Make it a point to sup­port your team this year by at­tend­ing a high school foot­ball game. Th­ese 700-plus stu­dents — in­clud­ing ath­letes, cheer­lead­ers and band mem­bers — have worked long and hard to per­form for you this sea­son, and the fer­vor will not hap­pen with­out your com­mit­ment.

High school foot­ball brings ev­ery­one to­gether, or tears them apart af­ter­ward de­pend­ing on cer­tain out­comes. But one night at the end of each week is pure….love.

Good luck to the 2007 Al­covy, East­side, and New­ton foot­ball pro­grams!

Eric L. McDon­ald

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