I have been covering football now for 23 years with a few breaks here and there. Until this fall it had been two years since I have roamed the sidelines.
I have seen a lot through the years. My first state championship I saw was when Briarwood won in 1989. In Kentucky, I saw a high school front line that averaged probably 6'4" and 290lbs that won three state championships with a running back about 5'6 and 170lbs that could run like the wind. Heck, with a front line like that the defense could not see him until he blew past them. He was killed in Iraq last year.
I have seen two winless teams going at it in the last game of the season and the winner acting like they had won a championship. Fortunately it was our team that won 14-0.
I have seen many great plays including a player who literally jumped over his defender enroute to returning a kickoff for the TD and a player intercepting a pass that was tipped by a teammate. (Friday night versus Grovetown)
Probably what I enjoy seeing the most is good sportsmanship. A player giving another a pat on the back (side) after a good play or giving them a hand when they are down on the field. I think it's also good sportsmanship when a player just gets up and goes back to the huddle after an awesome play. No need to grand stand, just get back and play.
This brings me to the flip side of things: bad sportsmanship. The Thomson game against Grovetown Friday night is a prime example. Oftentimes we judge coaches by wins and losses but how a team reacts when they are down may be a better yardstick. Grovetown is only in its second year and I am sure the coaches were not proud of how their team reacted to being down 42-0 in the third quarter but things got out of hand. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and from what I heard on the sidelines some Warriors were going after the Thomson players' knees. At one point play was stopped after several flags were thrown, some in Thomson's direction when they pushed back. Things were getting out of control.
Then I saw something special. As play was getting ready to resume, Thomson called a timeout. The entire team was asked to huddle up and Coach John Barnett laid down the law. He 'gently' reminded the team of why they were there and what they needed to accomplish. Not just on that particular night but for the rest of the season. When they broke to resume play, the Thomson fans stood and made the most noise in support of their team that I have heard all year long. At that moment, the adrenaline was flowing in that defensive unit and the Grovetown coaches called a timeout of their own. Most likely their best coaching move of the night.
I will have to say the timeout called by the Thomson coaches and the fans' reaction afterwards was one of the classiest moments I have seen on the football field in all my years on the sidelines.