This football season at the Brickyard will definitely be different. Aside from the cheers and screams of devoted fans and the barking of coaches on the sidelines, this year will be eerily silent.
This will be the first year in my lifetime without a Bulldog legend. Sure we didn't get to hear much of that old familiar voice last year, but this year we won't hear it at all.
Cecil Poss -- long time voice of the Bulldogs -- was so much more than just a voice though. He was a husband, father, grandfather, friend, mentor and a huge fan of Thomson football. All of those pieces of his life have been and will continue to be missed since he passed away on April 24 of this year.
I can't remember ever going to a Thomson football game and not seeing, or at least hearing Mr. Cecil. He'd always shake my hand and ask about my family long before making comments on the game or how the team was doing.
It didn't matter that he had to struggle to take his next breath. Mr. Cecil always had a kind word and a comment on the football team. His eyes sparkled every time I asked him how he thought the Bulldogs would do in the coming season.
I will miss that this year. Walking through the door of the press box on Aug. 20 will be a strange experience.
Thomson High has seen its share of changes over the past couple of years. There is a new principal and a new assistant principal. And Jerry Randolph took over for Mr. Cecil during the 2003 season.
Make no mistake, Mr. Randolph is just as big a fan of the Bulldogs, but even he readily admits Mr. Cecil was his right hand in the announcer's booth. The empty seat up there will be in honor of him who, for more than 20 years, gave the players a thrill when he called their names over the loudspeaker.
"I'm going to miss him," Mr. Randolph told me last year after Mr. Cecil passed away. "I loved having him up there with me in the booth last year."
Mr. Cecil's voice was distinctive, but so was his heart. Thomson's Defensive Coordinator John Barnett said this of Mr. Cecil: "He was a man of true Christian character who displayed undying loyalty to his family, church, community, and school. Our world needs more men like Cecil Poss."
Oh, for people to say something like that about me after I'm gone. It was certainly felt about Mr. Cecil while he was still here. He knew this community loved him, and they felt the love from him on a regular basis.
Even in a wink and a nod after a barnburner of a game, I knew he cared. I especially saw it in the devotion to his family and community that he passed down to his children and grandchildren.
There's something special about a man like that. And I for one am saddened to experience a football season without him. But he would want us to press forward, and I know he will live on in the smiles, laughs and cheers of his grandchildren.