In some ways, this is the best week of the year to be a high school football fan.
No matter how bad or how good your team is supposed to be this year, they’re undefeated and will continue to be undefeated for another week.
And even if your team lost everybody to graduation, lost a good coaching staff for whatever reason, and lost its projected starting quarterback and running back to injury over the summer, there’s still a good bit of hope that fans can hang onto for a few more days, no matter what happens this season.
It’s a similar hope that fans of Vanderbilt football have before the college football season starts. Sure, they have national contenders Georgia and Tennessee on their schedule along with quality teams like Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina. And there will be a couple of really good teams from the SEC West on the schedule too. And the Commodores haven’t done much since James Franklin left for Penn State. But the team has done nothing on the field yet to not give its fans hope.
The same can be said for high school teams as well.
But the next few days have to be among the worst each year to be a high school coach.
You’ve worked with a group of athletes since last winter – starting with workouts and drills, then to spring ball, then to summer workouts and then the work in July with 7-on-7 camps and Friday night scrimmages to prepare your team for the season.
And now the season is here, and you genuinely have questions about the team you’ll put on the field on Friday.
Will the linemen remember their blocking assignments?
Will the receivers remember their routes on each play?
Will the backs carry the ball high and tight and hit their gaps with confidence?
Will the defense remember their respective assignments on each play and not leave any weaknesses for the opposing offense to attack consistently throughout the game?
Are all the off-field details about game day taken care of – water bottles, game balls, managers, volunteers, film crew?
We’re near the point of the hay being in the barn, but now they’re wondering if all the hay is in the barn.
The good thing for the coaches is there are only a few more days to get those questions answered.
Jamborees are this Friday, which is the intermediate step between the scrimmages teams have been having on Friday nights the past couple weeks and an actual game that counts next week.
And then next Friday, everybody’s playing. And with the exception of North Side, every team in Madison County is playing in Madison County.
Indian fans just have to make the drive to Alamo to watch North Side open its season at Crockett County in their newly-renovated stadium.
From what I’ve seen in practices, weight rooms and fieldhouses throughout the county, every program has worked hard for this week with the intention of being as prepared as possible for the season to begin.
But questions will really begin to be answered next week when the players step on the field – many for the first time for meaningful high school action – in a live situation where there are actual stakes to the outcome of each game – and before that each play.
Good luck to all the local teams this year. But at least for now, even if you find yourself winless in October, you can latch on to some hope right now and enjoy that.
Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.