Finally, it’s time for football.
There has been lots of posturing since Louisiana High School Athletic Association member-school principals approved a split football playoff format eight months ago.
Talk has its limits.
It can’t match the majesty of a perfectly thrown spiral that drops over a wide receiver’s left shoulder as he crosses the goal line. Or the power of a running back who bounces off tacklers during a 40-yard run.
Then there’s the sheer excitement that builds as a kick returner zigs and zags 90 yards for a score. Or the elation a lineman who scoops and scores on a fumble generates.
Yes, thank goodness, high school football season is here.
I understand football games won’t solve the LHSAA’s issues or make a majority of schools happy unless they’re hoisting a championship trophy. Of course, high school football won’t cure cancer, reduce unemployment or thwart terrorism, either.
Once that first kickoff is launched into the air, my hope is the focus on high school football finally will go back to where it belongs: on the players and coaches.
Let’s take the split playoff component out of the spotlight for a while and concentrate on a regular season that has a chance to be special.
It’s no secret Louisiana is known for its football talent and love of the game. Regardless of what has transpired in the past eight months, there is plenty of talent and love to go around.
Running back Leonard Fournette, the St. Augustine senior, is at the top of every college’s wish list and every recruiting list. West Monroe’s mammoth offensive lineman, Cameron Robinson, is high on those lists, too.
A true fan knows high school football is about more than top recruits or power-broker teams such as John Curtis, which is again ranked nationally after being voted the nation’s top team in 2012. High school football is about teams and teamwork. It’s about the will to win and finding ways to beat the odds.
There are two things I’d like to see as the 2013 season unfolds.
The first is superior sportsmanship.
Improving sportsmanship has been a key objective for the LHSAA. There have been too many altercations that have led to sanctions and hearings lately.
During a year when emotions may run especially high, it’s important to maintain control. Be competitive, not combative.
The second is a great Cinderella story.
Nothing draws people together for high school sports quite like a Cinderella story. In 2008, Christian Life Academy came out of nowhere and finished as the Class 1A runner-up.
In 2010, White Castle — the Bulldogs who were seemingly underdogs — won a 1A state title.
Most Cinderella stories are born when players buy into the team concept and everything the coaches preach. Not all of them have to end with a state title. A winning season, perhaps a district title and a playoff berth aren’t bad.
The reality is that 2013 will be a season like no other because of the split playoff format. Nine state champions are scheduled to be crowned instead of five. Private schools and traditional public schools won’t compete together for titles for the first time.
But all that won’t happen until December. Until then, let’s savor one game at a time.
Yes, it’s time for high school football.