LARNED — The high school football season kicks off tonight.
Get out the pigskins!
The earliest games of football did, indeed, feature round balls made of inflated pig bladders. Later some skin was added to make the ball tougher.
Why pig bladders? Rubber hadn’t been invented yet and animal bladders were easy to come by and they were somewhat inflatable.
The oldest football ever found was made in the 1540s. It consists of a pig bladder covered with pieces of leather, possibly from a deer. It was found in 1981 at Stirling Castle in Scotland. No mention was made as to whether or not they used instant replay!
Rubber was invented in the mid-1800s, and Porky and Petunia Pig let out a sigh of relief and took a back seat to inflated rubber balls with leather coverings. I am sure they will be cheering for their favorite team this weekend and cheering with the rest of us, “Hang on to that pigskin!” Oink! Oink!
Tonight is a Barton County bash as the Hoisington Cardinals fly the short distance to Great Bend to take on the Black Panthers. Mismatch? We need to look no further than last years’ game in which the Panthers struggled to put away the Cardinals.
The flip side of that is that Cardinals coach Jason Ingram only has four returning starters on offense and defense. He is going to have to play a lot of young players and sometimes young players make mistakes in early season games.
Great Bend also will be a young team, so this might be a high scoring, mistake-filled fun-fest for the fans! The difference for coach Bo Black is that the Panthers will be rejuvenated by a fine 7-1 junior varsity team from last year.
Last year, the Cardinals carved a 5-5 record out of a tough schedule with a veteran team. That tough schedule is still in place for this young ball club. Last season, the Panthers jumped out of the gate to a 5-1 record and stumbled in district games. It all adds up that this is an important trend-setter in the first game for both ball clubs.
Great Bend 31, Hoisington 12.
A week later and some Kansas State fans are still scratching their heads over the Wildcats performance against North Dakota State. The team played ... well, very UnSnyderesque like. They simply didn’t look like a Bill Snyder-coached team.
My first reaction after the game was that Bill Snyder got out-coached by Craig Bohl. Perhaps that is too strong. Let’s say it this way: North Dakota State’s coaching staff had their team better prepared to play, had a better game plan, than did the coaching staff of Kansas State. In post-game comments, coach Snyder himself seemed a little befuddled about some of the offensive strategies of the Wildcats.
It is a pretty sure bet we won’t see a repeat performance of those things this week as the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette come to town following a 34-14 setback to Arkansas. It won’t get any better for the Cajuns.
Kansas State 38, Louisiana Lafayette 14.
The Kansas Jayhawks finally kick off the season on Saturday against South Dakota. KU head coach Charlie Weis had the good fortune of having an extra week of practice before playing a game and it should be a great benefit to all of the new players, transfers and freshmen competing for starting jobs with the revamped Jayhawks.
The word out of Lawrence is that BYU transfer Jake Heaps is the real deal (I know, I know, we heard that last year about Notre Dame transfer Dane Crist). If KU is to begin making a dent in the Big 12, Heaps will HAVE to be the real thing. Four or five wins is not outside the realm of possibility for this team.
Kansas 48, South Dakota 13.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.