Who’s ready for some football?
I opened the door Thursday morning and there was hope.
I knew the long hot summer would soon be over when I stepped out onto the front porch and discovered that the temperature was cooler outside than it was inside. When I walked down my front steps to pick up the newspaper and the sun had yet to peek over the horizon, I knew the days of sticky clothes and searing hot steering wheels were near the end.
And I knew one other thing — that football season is near.
For weeks, players have been sweating it out on the practice field.
Area volunteers have been getting the striping machines ready, pulling out the fluorescent orange yard markers and making sure the gridiron is in perfect condition.
The cokes and candy have been ordered. The hamburger and hot dog grills are being cleaned out.
The Miss-Lou is filled with hard-core college football fans. Purple and gold might be the region’s unofficial colors. Hotty Toddy and Hail State are common greetings on the street.
When it comes to professional football, Drew Brees and Sean Payton might as well be elevated to real sainthood status in these parts.
But it is high school football that gets me excited. Maybe it is because most high school football players realize they are not headed to the NFL. Prep sports may be a little rough around the edges, but it is all about teamwork, camaraderie and the unexpected.
It is about the brilliant plays that shine above the fumbles, missed tackles and multiple penalties. It is about the busted play that miraculously ends up winning the game for the other teams.
For the past three weeks, reporters and photographers have been sweating it out with high school football players and coaches as they fine-tune their playbooks.
Before the first snap, the newspaper has been busy taking team photos, finding out who this year’s star players are expected to be and peppering coaches with questions about offense and defense.
We have also been taking pictures of local cheerleaders, dance lines and band members.
All of the photos, interviews, stats and hard work will be put together in this year’s annual glossy guide to Miss-Lou football, set to come out Aug. 23.
This year looks to be an exciting one with teams from Natchez, Vidalia, Ferriday, Fayette, Woodville, Centreville and Jonesville ready to prove they are not just the best in the region, but also state champions.
The Football 2013 guide includes everything from team schedules and records from last year’s season, to information about what the goals and expectations are for 2013.
An exciting addition leading up to our annual issue is our list of the ten impact players of the area.
We have already featured three players who are expected to accomplish big things on the gridiron and we will feature seven more — one each day — ending with our impact player of the year on Friday.
The only thing more exciting is the weather and the first kickoff. I can’t wait.
Ben Hillyer is design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.