It’s hard to believe I’m old enough to have experienced things more than 40 years ago. But the calendar doesn’t lie, and time has a way of marching on with the years cascading by like a mountain waterfall.
I was a Gulf Breeze Middle School seventh-grader in the fall of 1970 when I saw my first high school football game. It was the first year for Gulf Breeze High School.
In that long ago fall, my little hometown on the south end of Pensacola Bay was alive with high school football fever.
I fell in love with high school football in the fall of 1970. In 1974 I had the privilege of being on the first winning Dolphin team.
My high school football experience has now spanned the better part of 45 years.
I’ve covered high school football games in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. And I’ve watched games in couple of other states.
My high school football experience involves games played within a long touchdown pass of the bays and bayous of Northwest Florida, as well games played in the shadows of the mountains of East Tennessee and North Georgia.
I have practiced on mornings when the heat index was above 100 degrees at 7 a.m. I have covered playoff games in Tennessee with wind chills below 0.
I weighed less than 100 pounds when I saw my first high school game. Now, if I lost 100 pounds, I would still weigh 30 pounds more than I did when I played my last high school game.
Given the choice of covering a game from the press box or the sidelines, I’m a sidelines guy. I love being close to the players and looking in their eyes when the game is on the line or feeling their emotions after a big play.
I love college football, and enjoy the National Football League. However, deep down, more than any other sport, I am a high school football guy.
The players I looked up to when I was in middle school are now in their 60s, and I’m not too far behind. I attribute the aches in, and scars on, my body to high school football, although I can’t really be sure about some of the scars.
And yet, with the dawn of another high school football season on the horizon, I feel young again.
I am a high school football guy with a lifetime of memories and countless games to prove it.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.