August 22, 2013

Chris Whitfield: Let's play some football

Every year when the last days of August roll around, I am acutely aware of how much older I become. And it has nothing to do with my creaky knees or the fact that my fashion sense seemingly left me somewhere around 1998.

People use many different things to mark the passage of time. Some make big deals out of birthdays or anniversaries. Others use milestone events such as the birth of a child or the death of a loved one.

All of those things are notable, but for a person like me who has invested more than half of his life to working for newspapers and covering sports, it is the start of the football season which marks my march through time.

Every year around the middle of November — sometimes sooner if the teams I am covering aren’t having successful seasons — I am ready for the high school football season to be over. The reason lies in the fact that the football season is equivalent to Christmas buying season for a big retail company. It is a lot of work, but each year the players and the events and the heartbreak and the elation that each season produces make for some of the best storytelling that we do.

Actually, sometimes it seems like we don’t cover high school football enough. If 7,000 people from the area would show up to watch a debate between politicians 12 Fridays out of the year, it would be on the front page of the paper with headlines to rival the arrival of a governor or a president.

But even if I’m ready for a break in November, by the time the next August rolls around, my excitement and anticipation of another season is renewed. And in tomorrow’s paper, my alter ego — the Guru of Gridiron Guessing, the Prep Pigskin Prognosticator, the Kool-Aid Man himself — will return for our weekly meeting and pig pickings.

With today’s paper you will find our annual area high school football preview section, and within its pages, we give the usual look at the area’s teams and their schedules, and we also our take on the best players the area has to offer. But in addition, we take a different look at the game through the mind’s eye, examining coaching personalities and what mental characteristics are necessary to become a successful high school quarterback.

One mental aspect we didn’t profile was the mentality of the fan. And while I don’t possess a Ph.D. in psychology, there are a few observations I can make heading into my 24th high school football season as a journalist.

While spring may be the season most associated with hope, I have always thought that for the sports fan it is with the coming of the fall when hope truly does spring eternal.

The area’s prep season opens with Dalton hosting Ringgold at Harmon Field on Friday night, and the one thing that all of the area’s football fans share right now, right this second, is the hope of a successful season.

Everyone is unbeaten. Everyone’s dream of a perfect season, a magical season are alive. The possibility of all of the pieces falling into place and a run to greatness are still there and have not been doused.

Success is different for each program and varies from year to year. For some teams, falling short of any goal is considered a failure. For other programs, success may be winning that one game no one expects you to win — or simply winning one game.

Right now, all of the area’s teams have potential and they are all undefeated. That has fans just as excited for the start of the season. It is the players who have invested their time and effort into getting ready for the new season, but it is the fan who will ride the wave of emotions in the stands. It is the fan who will applaud the success and even laud the effort when success isn’t attained.

Strike up the band, power up the amp so we can hear the guitar licks of “Cat Scratch Fever” and get ready to fire the cannon at Southeast Whitfield. It’s time.

Chris Whitfield is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. He started covering high school football in 1990 as a correspondent for the Savannah News-Press. You can write to him

Text Only
  • DHS at Heritage 1 mlh.jpg Generally disappointed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team started the fifth inning of Friday’s crucial Sub-region 7B-4A game against Heritage-Catoosa with four consecutive hits.
    The only problem for the Catamounts was that was where their good hitting started and stopped.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup: Upset puts N. Murray in baseball playoffs

    Over the past few seasons, a late-season game with Sonoraville has been the deciding factor in whether the North Murray High School baseball team advanced to the state playoffs.

    April 18, 2014

  • Miller, Mariners off to NAIA title tournament

    Former Dalton High School golf standout Chase Miller is finishing his senior year at College of Coastal Georgia on a high note.

    April 18, 2014

  • NW at SE soccer   5  mlh.jpg On to the title match

    With around 15 minutes left in Thursday’s Region 7-4A semifinals match, Northwest Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team increased pressure on Southeast Whitfield with hopes of a tying goal.
    But the host Raiders were the ones getting the late goal.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • DHS tennis day 2 2 mlh.jpg Prep tennis: Perfect Colts claim title in Region 5-3A

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys tennis team only needed three years to win its first region championship.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Heritage at DHS baseball 3 mlh.jpg Prep baseball: Cats must win today to clinch No. 2 seed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team led 6-5 against visiting Heritage-Catoosa as late as the fifth inning with a chance to clinch second place in Sub-region 7B-4A.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Region track and field: Richardson paces Murray Co. girls

    Katlyn Richardson has had an impressive junior season for Murray County High School’s girls track and field team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Colts boys have shot at 3A golf state sectional

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys golf team finished second in the Region 5-3A tournament at Calhoun’s Fields Ferry Golf Course on Thursday, but now the Colts will have to wait to see if they will advance to the Class 2A state sectional tournament.

    April 17, 2014

  • CHS Lowe_Bartley 3 mlh.jpg Let’s keep playing

    Academic offerings played a big part in which college football program nabbed Christian Heritage School’s Nich Bartley, one of the area’s top players in 2013.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep roundup: Coahulla Creek hurts N. Murray’s playoff hopes

    One play in the fifth inning, during which the sun got in pitcher Braiden Jacobs’ eyes, seemed to encapsulate the entire season for Coahulla Creek High School’s baseball team.
    But it could be one rule misinterpretation that defines the season for North Murray.

    April 17, 2014