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Geiger’s Counter: A great night under the lights

Everything that is right about high school football was on display Friday night at Pirate Field in Zebulon when the Pike Pirates played host to the Lamar County Trojans. There was a hint of fall on the breeze at kickoff time and it was dark before the end of the first quarter. High school football is meant to be played after dark, outside and under the lights. Domes and day games be damned. This night we had a stadium absolutely packed to the gills with a standing room only crowd. Fans lined the fence and others brought in tailgate chairs and dove stools to sit on during breaks in the action. Smoke from the grills at the concession stands wafted on the air and the music from two great bands was in the ears as two border rivals went to war on the gridiron. There were pretty cheerleaders, fired up football dads and fraught football moms in attendance by the hundreds. Beneath the pageantry, you could cut the pre-game tension with a knife. It quickly became clear that Lamar would win going away. The score got lopsided but neither team let up. It was a hard hitting contest but there were no issues. Both teams displayed true sportsmanship as did their fans. Even the officials were equitable, making calls neither coaching staff agreed with. The third quarter was so flag-filled the PA announcer deemed it the ‘longest quarter of football in Pike County history’ when the clock finally displayed all zeroes. Lamar County used its 41-14 win to vault into the top spot in the Class AA football rankings. The Trojans are ranked #1 for the first time in school history. The Pirates, meanwhile, never gave up. They played hard to the final buzzer and are building the foundation that will eventually catapult them onto the statewide stage. One can argue that college football has supplanted all other sports as America’s pastime. The atmosphere at a big college game simply overshadows the rap concert feel of an NFL game. High school football games, however, are the muscle and sinew of the sport. They are played every weekend in nearly every community in this great country. And, the communities care. Rivalries like Pike-Lamar are what make high school football stadiums the only place to be on Friday nights in the fall. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of the Journal Reporter.

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