Although the fall sports season starts for athletes and media in the early parts of August, for most fans, it’s inaugurated as the first ball lifts off the tee and flies across the still daylight sky. In a welcomed change, this year’s Kickoff Friday night had that familiar chill in the air as the sun set and the lights flickered on.
There’s no more 0 – 0 teams, last night proving to be the best start or worst start for every single squad. Even though we’re now just 10% into the season, some familiar themes are obvious once again. The MAC is really good. I know, duh! Even though an opening night 7 – 3 for the conference might seem sub-par, Anna lost a great overtime game to a strong Arlington team. Delphos St. Johns took a hit against a much larger Bath, and Parkway fell to continual NWC contender Crestview. But the MAC needs no defending. Between Coldwater’s blanking of Kenton, Ft. Recovery’s shutout of Lehman Catholic, Minster’s abuse of Ft. Loramie and well, let’s be honest, Marion Local’s survival of sure-to-be-playing-deep-into-November McComb, it’s not a question of if there will be a State Title, but how many.
The WBL also came out swinging; they’re lone marks coming from the previously discussed MAC against Kenton and Celina and an impressive statement by NWC defending Champions Delphos Jefferson against a Shawnee squad debuting a new head coach. Patience, Shawnee fans, it will take time. The perennial powers look to continue their traditions while St. Marys and Van Wert will be teams to watch this year. St. Marys will surprise no one after last year’s resurrection. Van Wert may not either. The Cougar’s have become the area’s worst kept secret. Their pre-season energy woke up their hungry community and so far, they’re backing it up on the field.
It all serves to prove that our area does Friday night right. Not only did our local teams combined to lose only three games to teams outside of our area. But the fans showed up in droves… and then stayed through the entire affair (often toasting our new favorite rule: the running clock). Football is a community event. From the army of volunteers preparing the stadium, grounds and popcorn to the bands and cheerleaders, training staff, parking attendants and 50/50 raffle sellers. It’s an immense undertaking.
I was reminded of this while I was (unsuccessfully) working on fixing our clock camera before the Coldwater game. The Kenton convoy invaded the stadium grounds with multiple busses, equipment trailers, instrument trailers and a line of fans following. Communities see a population bump on game night. Of course, those who can’t make the game, tune into the radio coverage or check out the television re-broadcasts later in the evening. As someone who grew up outside of the area, the media coverage our local teams receive is truly unique. And it’s a special privilege to be able to show off communities and their teams to our wider viewing area. Some nights we at WOSN do that better than others. Just as players and coaches were shaking off rust and testing out underclassmen, we were literally blowing dust and cobwebs out of production trucks and introducing new crew members to our version of a baptism-by-fire. I’m afraid it showed in a few cases. Sorry! We take pride in our local employees, many of whom are high school students themselves. And as coaches are spending the coming week of practice ironing out a laundry list of weaknesses, we’ll be spending the next week with our proverbial hoods up tracking down equipment defects and shoring up crews performance. “We’ll get them next week” was surely echoed by coaches all over the area last night and I found myself encouraging the crew in the same way. That’s also my promise to our viewers.
Enjoy the coming weeks… football season is over in a blink. But it continues to be a great ride. And we’ll be brining it to you night after night!