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Nothing beats high school football

With the possible exception of a fall Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium in Athens, nothing beats high school football. High school football is all about kids playing a game they love and giving all they have on every play to win one for the home team, the home crowd, their parents, girlfriends and coaches who are a huge part of ‘“ and influence on ‘“ their lives. There have always been talented players on Georgia high school football rosters but, as I prepare to begin my 33rd year stalking the sidelines, I can attest that players today are much bigger and much faster than they were when I started. Coaching staffs have grown considerably and technology has aided these coaches so they are able to coach high school players at the level only college players enjoyed just a generation ago. Case in point: high schools now record their games on high definition video cameras that allow image enlargement not possible with the old 8 mm films coaches relied on for generations. Digital video can be edited, cut and spliced so as to allow specialized clips for each position group and for individual players if coaches desire. This leads to better teaching and error correction. All this means that the high school product on display under those Friday night lights is the best it has ever been. In fact, the top high schools play at the level small colleges did just 10 years ago. About the only aspect of the game that has failed to keep up with the times is officiating but that is a column for another day. We are fortunate hereabouts in that Lamar County and Pike County play in highly-competitive Region 4AA where there are very few weak sisters on the schedule. There are many methods by which to attempt to build a strong, cohesive community but none is more effective than a highly competitive high school football team. If you trot out a championship caliber unit every Friday night, a very large portion of the population will come out to support it and, voila, you have instant cohesion. So, high school football is about a lot more than just offenses and defenses or winning and losing. It is about community and supporting the young people of that community. Both the Trojans and the Pirates open the season on the road this Friday. Lamar plays at Bleckley County and Pike plays at McIntosh. Take a road trip to cheer them on if you can. Brad Webber’s Pirates play their home opener September 2 against FPD. Jason Strickland’s Trojans host Spencer that same night. Both games kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Do yourself a favor. Make plans to come out and support the home team that night. You and your family will enjoy it and you will help build a better community just by showing up. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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