The South: A Photo Essay (pt. 5)

Friday Night Lights 

Baseball may be America’s Pastime, but in the South, Football is King.  Every community, town, or city has a field – and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing next to a cornfield or in a big stadium, as long as you’re playing.  Once football season kicks off in the fall, Friday nights are owned by high school games; Saturdays belong to the college series; and Sundays are reserved for the NFL.

On College campuses throughout Dixieland, quarterbacks are revered as demigods; the field is their dominion.  Coaches are escorted in and out of stadiums with as much security as the US President.  It is no coincidence that the South Eastern Conference dominates college football each year and almost always has a team playing in the National Championship.

Yes, football reigns supreme here, and though I’ve never lived in any other Southern state, I can’t imagine anyone taking football (high school, at least) more seriously than the Georgians…except maybe the Texans.

*****

“The utter darkness of a rural southern sky is pierced by the lights shining down on the field.  I’m down and set on the line of scrimmage.  The night air is so hot and humid that my vision is blurred by the sweat dripping down my face.  All I can hear are the short, deep gasps coming from my teammates.  The roar of the crowd has been pushed from my head.  I take a deep breath through my nose.  I smell the familiar odors of football:  the grass of the field, the stench of sweat.  But most of all I feel the tension.  The air is thick with it.  I can hardly remain still; my adrenaline won’t allow it.  Finally, my quarterback steps up.  “Red!  Set!  Hut!” and the ball is snapped…

…I fire off the line and plow into the man in front of me.  Our pads clash and we are engaged in yet another ten second battle of strength.  My quarterback receives the ball and shoots forward.  He dives right up the middle and…SCORE!  There seems to be an eerie silence, a second that lasts forever.  But then, the crowd erupts into an explosion of cheering.  I laugh.  I can’t believe it.  Randolph Southern just scored its first touchdown! “

Creative Commons License
The South: A Photo Essay by W. J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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