November 26, 2012

What's Going on?: One season ends, but others already going

I love football, but it is an evil game. No, this is not the latest column decrying the dangerous nature of the sport, although the effects of having a 300-pound genetic freak slam into you and rattle your brain around your head are worth paying attention to. But that’s a topic for another day.

No, I cast football as evil because it made me do the unthinkable — lie to my mother. Again and again and again. Made my dad lie, too.

You see, my mother doesn’t hate football. She talks about how much she once enjoyed Valdosta High games. (Knowing your team is all but sure of a win most Fridays has a way of being fun in that way.) But as I grew up in a one -TV household where the remote more often than not landed in Daddy’s La-Z-Boy, football fatigue set in for my mother sometime late in the season.

That, it seems, was the question for her. Just how late was it in the season? When would football season be over, if ever?

The conversation would go something like this:

“Are y’all watching football again?”

“Yes. But this is the last game.”

Well, often it kind of was. It was the last high school game — for that team, because it was the regular season and the playoffs weren’t in their fate. Or it was the last college game — yes, the bowls were still to be played, but this was the end to the REGULAR season.

So as the schedules wound down, from high school to college to the pros, this conversation happened again and again. Only on Super Bowl Sunday were we truly being honest when we said this would be the last game of the season — because it would be the last one worth watching. No one wants to see the Pro Bowl, after all, not even the players who make it to Hawaii.

Sometime over the years, Momma wised up. We had that conversation again, gave the same answer.

She gave a different response.

“I don’t believe that,” she said as headed down the hall, book in hand.

Hey, turns out me and my dad encouraged reading, so our viewing habits weren’t all bad.

I say all that to bid farewell to football season. Sort of.

With Dalton’s exit from the Class 4A state playoffs on Friday night at Sandy Creek, another high school football season came to a close for the programs in Murray and Whitfield counties. As has often been the case, it was the Catamounts who played the area’s final game, this time two weeks after everyone else had closed their lockers for good in 2012.

Some GHSA teams, including a few in Northwest Georgia, will play on for the next three weeks to determine the association’s seven state champions — SEVEN! (Can you tell I have my doubts about the weight of a state title when you award that many trophies?) — culminating in a final weekend of football Dec. 14-15 at the Georgia Dome.

But in a way, football season isn’t quite over for The Daily Citizen. We will cast another look back at this season nearer to Christmas with the annual publication of The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Football Team, including our pick for Player of the Year. It’s perhaps the toughest of our all-area lineups to pick, but also one of the most fun to debate when the sports staff meets to make our final calls based on area coaches’ input.

While our picks for volleyball were already published on Thanksgiving, you can look for all-area teams for cross country and softball in the coming weeks before our football lineup is announced.

But this weekend’s cold temperatures are quite the reminder that winter is coming, and winter sports are already here. The stars of the court, mat and pool are in action, and there is plenty happening in high school sports and otherwise athletically, despite the gridiron’s quiet state around here.

Here’s a look at what else is going on:

• Some local basketball programs elected for a low-key Thanksgiving when it came to scheduling games or a delayed start to the season altogether, but by the end of this week everyone will be dribbling.

And this week offers area fans a great chance to get out and see a game or two. Save North Murray, every local high school varsity basketball team will either play at home or on a local foe’s court, meaning you won’t have to fill up the tank to see some hoops.

Friday includes a pair of local head-to-head matchups as Coahulla Creek heads down to Christian Heritage and Murray County travels to Northwest Whitfield. Murray County is home Saturday to welcome Dalton — well, welcome might be the wrong word — in what has traditionally been one of the most entertaining early-season matchups among area boys programs.

• One of the signs that Dalton High’s wrestling program had regained its footing after a few years of instability was the revival of the Cats’ Carpet Classic tournament. When he was hired in 2006, it was important to coach Charles Mitchell to restore the event, and he did.

But it’s been a hectic few months for the Cats. Mitchell left in the middle of last season, coach Richard Garrett returned to finish the schedule, then retired again in the fall, and former assistant Michael Keefe came back, this time to lead the program.

Keefe knows there’s some repair work to be done, but he won a battle in the preseason when he was able to save the Carpet Classic when coaches were bailing to other events every direction he looked. This year’s Classic is set for Saturday at Dalton, and while only half of the area’s programs are participating, it’s still a great chance to see what the year might hold for local teams.

During a preseason interview, Keefe said he had to go beyond the state’s borders to put together a complete field, but the brackets are full and he’s expecting a good day of wrestling.

We’ll have more on the tournament later this week, so keep reading.

• OK, so you spent Thanksgiving bragging about your undefeated record at this year’s tailgates, told tales of your legendary toss, puffed your chest out as you recalled how the bag never even touched the sides as you won game after game of cornhole this fall.

Care to test yourself against some new competition?

A local tournament will give you a chance to do just that Saturday in Varnell. The fundraiser for the GA Nitro’s travel baseball teams will include other family activities and barbecue, so it might just feel like a tailgate.

For more details, see the Local Sports Calendar, which is always online at

Marty Kirkland is sports editor of The Daily Citizen. His parents now have three TVs and the football lying game is no longer played at their house. Have something you think we should highlight in “What’s Going On?” Write to us at

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