Return to Friday Night Normalcy

In most small towns across America in the fall, Friday nights mean one thing — high school football.  This has been the norm in all places I have lived from California, Texas (especially Texas), northern Kentucky, and my hometown of West Liberty, Kentucky.

This is a picture of the first home football game after the tornado destroyed the field and the facility six months ago.  This has been quite an accomplishment I must say.   I had my camera set on a speed of 3200 ISO for the football action so the shot is a little grainy.  I know it won’t hang on the walls of many people as a masterpiece of photographic technique, but I liked the shot of the field with the sunset.  I just wanted a picture of the moment  that West Liberty and Morgan County, Kentucky took a big step in the return to normalcy.  Friday nights will once again be reserved for high school football, one more victory over the tornado.

Whenever I go to a high school football game, I never fail to reminisce about the one year of high school football I played in my senior year.  You see in my mind I was a touch football legend, catching passes in the pimply faced secondary across the few impromptu back yard playing fields of West Liberty.  I was always afraid to play high school football because I was rather small in stature.  So when my senior year came around, I figured 17 years of growth would be enough to inflict maximum  force.  My DNA worked overtime to produce a superior specimen at 5’9″ and 145 pounds…perfect for football I presumed.  Also, I was highly nearsighted and had to wear glasses under my helmet…another bonus.

There was one play that, surprisingly I remember, tells me my instincts may have been a little off.  In my first game, the coach sent me in with a play that would be a pass to be thrown to me.  Full of excitement and confidence and thinking about all of those passes I caught on the touch football fields, I relayed the play to my quarterback.  Now I had practiced this play numerous times without any calamities against my teammates and it seemed so simple.  I lined up at tight end (did I mention I was 5’9″ and 145 pounds?) and I was to take one step toward the defensive tackle and fake a block, then dash out to the flat for a five-yard pass to pick up the first down.

For some reason the defensive tackle, who was larger than some of the cars I’ve owned, wasn’t too receptive to my coming toward him.  I must have invaded his personal space because he hit me with a forearm shiver to the chin that snapped my head back like a Pez dispenser.  Fortunately, he knocked me in the general direction I was supposed to go.  Unfortunately, he also knocked my glasses down inside my helmet so I could not see the football coming.  As I was staggering out to the flat like a drunken sailor, our quarterback, who had not only an accurate arm but a strong one also, stuck the ball in my midsection so hard it knocked the breath out of me.   After making the catch, two linebackers pounced on me reminiscent of those nature films where the cheetahs devour the lonely straggler in the back of the pack.

We got the first down and I stammered off to the side lines with the strap of my glasses dangling out the back of my helmet like a ten year-old girl’s pony tail and proceeded to have the most fun I ever had playing a high school sport.

If you like this picture, you can see more here.