Cars packed the side of the road. People sported bright, festive colors. Grills grilled, sending smoke wafting in the blue sky. As the August heat held its grip on the land, the heartbeat of a small Mississippi town began beating once again.
It was the start of high school football season and it was good.
Brandon visited Madison Central in a early-season match between two highly ranked titans. (#1 vs. #6 respectfully.) Parents watched nervously as cheerleaders, band members, managers and football players took the field for the first time. Clouds glowed orange as our national anthem played. Soon the ball was in the air. The game had begun. Kids played next to the stadium and walked up and down the aluminum bleachers, hoping to borrow concession money from their parents. Long lines snaked underneath the stadium, as boosters struggled to keep up with demand. Drinks sold out as the announcer advertised “A tasty treat.” The play on the field was excellent, particularly for a first game. Both teams lived up to their preseason billings. Brandon emerged victorious 21-14 thanks to a fourth-quarter score. It was a game that you hated to see either team lose. The level of play was that good. Brandon and Madison Central were winners in my book.
My sons and I left a little early. They had had a great night hanging out with their friends but school’s rude early wake-up call beckoned. As we walked out, I looked at the field and couldn’t help but think about the last time I went to a high school football game. I was the one wearing the helmet and pads — I couldn’t help but think of my emotions as I walked off the field for the last time 28 years ago. Time has passed in a blink of an eye.
I hope the students participating yesterday hold on tightly to every moment. Before they know it, they’ll be the parent watching from the stands and thinking of moments long, long ago. Moments like last night’s glorious game.
The heartbeat of a small town briefly matched the beat of my old heart. And it was good.