It’s here. The Rites of Fall.It’s that time of year when all across Kansas, indeed, all across America, high school football practice begins and parents, especially the dads, show up to check out the team that their son is playing for. The cars line up around the practice field and the dads, and some moms, lean against the cars and watch and discuss , approve, complain and hope; mostly hope while they talk about the upcoming season.
The conversations are pretty much the same, no matter the city, no matter the state. Let’s listen in: “Hi Clem. How you think we goin’ to do this year? We gonna be any good? ‘Well, Ralph, I don’t know. We lost a lot of talent off of that last year’s team. Gonna be hard to replace them.’ For sure Clem. Who’s gonna be the quarterback this year? Well, I hear they’s gonna move that Jones kid from wide receiver to quarterback but I don’t know if he can throw the ball! You’re right Ralph but he can run like a deer so maybe they are gonna run the ball a lot more this year, don’t you think?”
“Well Clem, we got that new coach this year. What kind of offense do you think they are gonna run?” Ralph, I don’t know if he knows a Single Wing from a chicken wing but he better get something installed early because you know those Vikings are going to be looking for revenge this year! Oh Ralph! You got that. When we upset them in overtime last year to knock them out of the playoffs, you know it just frosted them!”
“Look Clem, here’s the thing. We both know that football games are won in the trenches. You gotta have linemen; big and strong and it all starts with the center. Who’s gonna snap the ball this year? Well Frank, I guess they are gonna move that Murphy kid in there. Listen Clem! Last year he couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag! Get real! Well, Frank, his Dad said he has really been hitting the weights since last year and has added 25 pounds of muscle. Look Clem, here’s what I know. If you are going to have a new quarterback you’d better have a good line. You gotta be able to block no matter whether you are going to run the ball or throw the ball!”
So it goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the practice field of the Panthers, Cardinals, Indians, Mustangs, Vikings or Monarchs. It doesn’t matter if it is at the smallest of schools or the largest. The Rites of Fall are repeated every year in every community. The gathering at the practice field to dispense the wisdom of the elders.
I don’t know if Huckleberry Finn ever played football or not but his words seem somehow appropriate here: “That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.” – Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The beauty of all of this is that we do not need to know “nothing”. We can participate in this Rite of Fall anyway. It happens every year, just like the leaves falling to signal a new season.
CHALK TALK: Much to the dismay of the national sports media Tiger Woods DID NOT win again last weekend, fading badly on the final day.
How many times have we had a so-called “quarterback controversy” at Kansas State? I think Bill Snyder loves it! What could be better than having two, or more, top quarterbacks? Contrary to what they are saying, expect the Wildcats to go through the season playing two qb’s.
I will be happy when the football season gets underway because I am tired of all of the “LeBron James” news. Especially his “tiff” with President Trump. Not sports news for me!
I am sure every football team feels like their schedule is tough but, you’ve got to agree, the Larned Indians have put together a tough one. They open with three straight playoff teams in Smoky Valley, Hesston and Hoisington and then go to state-contender Pratt, followed by two more playoff teams in Holcomb and Nickerson. Certainly no breathers there!
”Football is a mistake. It combines the two worst elements of American life. Violence and committee meetings.”—George Will
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.