Football curtain raises Friday

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Sure, many area teams took part in pre-season jamborees last Friday night and the results are often curious.

Jamborees are often experimental exercises where coaches call plays and coverages they’d never do during the course of the season. Jamborees are there to get kids used to playing while the lights are on and the popcorn is cooking. They are there for coaches to find out who is ready to play and who isn’t.

Sure, teams want to win their pairing, or their scrimmage, whatever the case, but when the final whistle blows and the lights go out, there is film to review, things to work on at practice the next week and the record is still 0-0.

That all changes this week.

Friday night, or perhaps Thursday or Saturday, when Dresden and Westview will play at UT-Martin, the stakes are real. The records count and the pressure is on. In the case of Camden and Waverly, Dresden and Westview, Huntingdon and McKenzie…and perhaps a few others…the season opens with arch-rivals. The off-season takes on a sense of urgency.

To play your nemesis right out of the gate means you throw the records out the window. You have to get ready for the A-game. When teams hit the weight room in December or January in hopes of getting bigger, faster and stronger, there is a calendar on the wall with a specific date circled with a time and location specified. The reminder is constant.

When teams hit the practice field in the spring, it’s with the knowledge that a big opener awaits. Yeah, it may be six months away, but that opener with Arch-rival High looms. So, every rep takes on especial importance. Every film session reveals where teams need to improve. Every subsequent practice is an opportunity to remedy the errors of the previous day. It’s a chance to get better.

You know the folks across the ditch are working hard to get better.

When fall camp arrives, time speeds up. The marching band’s drum beats and brass section mark the time. It may be hot in the beginning of the camp, but often, temperatures moderate and usher in the autumnal equinox. Teams scrimmage, they pay attention to detail, there is a burning sense of urgency.

What was once six months away, is now a few days away.

And so it is for our are teams that jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Camden is at Waverly. Dresden opens at Martin-Westview. McKenzie lifts the lid at Huntingdon. It’s here. It’s time to strap on the helmets and pads and defend the honor of the respective communities. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose.

For the winners, people will likely remember the year as being a great one, even if the record doesn’t reflect in November, simply because Crosstown defeated Arch-rival. For the loser, even if the record reflects good things in November, sadly, in some precincts, the season will be a failure because of the setback. It happens at Alabama and Auburn. It happens at Ohio State and Michigan. It happens with Florida and Tennessee. Like it or not, fair or not, that’s just how it is, unfortunately.

What’s worse, or better, depending on the perspective, is that the losing team will have to hear about it another year.

Ready or not, it’s time to lace ’em up.

Jim Steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and the host of The Pressbox radio show, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB, 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.

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