I told myself I wouldn’t write some generic “Oh, I’m So Happy Football is Back” hype piece, but here we are on the precipice of the season.
And my excitement is palpable.
This summer, like each summer before it, felt hotter than the previous summer.
I don’t have any science on hand to back up that claim, but it just feels that way.
It feels longer and more boring with each passing year.
Sure, some years we have the World Cup, and some years, like this year, we have the Olympics.
We have baseball that drags on for what seems like eight months.
But none of those things are really great substitutes.
We crave the violence in the trenches.
We crave the ever-increasingly complex offenses.
We crave a linebacker blitzing A-gap untouched and hammering a quarterback on third and long.
I’m writing this on Tuesday, but when the paper comes out, it will be the eve of the Battle of Yazoo, the Big Game, the rivalry game people wait all year to witness.
And it’s almost here.
Coach Robert Dobbs, though newly hired as the head coach of Yazoo County’s football team, has both plenty of experience as an assistant in the game and a lot of talent returning.
Dobbs will be utilizing most of the same offensive and defensive schemes that the Panthers have been using over the past few years, so the transition has been a smooth and easy one.
Players like Keilos Swinney, Kenneth Gainwell (reigning Yazoo Herald Most Valuable Player), Edward Haralson and LeAndrius Sampson have only one thing on their minds this season, and that is a state title.
But before they can focus on that, they have their rival from across the county waiting, and the Indians are sick of losing.
Yazoo City, however, will be in the best shape the program has seen in recent years.
Lynn Lang returns, and the freshman-laden team from last year has a little more experience.
But what they lack in experienced seniors, they make up for in explosiveness.
The skill positions and linebackers of Yazoo City will make for super interesting games.
Let’s not forget the private schools, either.
Benton will open up their season on Friday night with a home game against East Rankin.
It will be interesting to see Benton play this year with a new coaching staff and basically an entire new starting lineup.
Manchester will have a tough home-opener on Friday as well with Indianola Academy coming into town.
It will be the start of the Bryan Dendy era as head coach, and he has some talent to work with this season.
I’m not only excited for the actual game. There are other things I’m excited to experience.
I’m ready to smell the food of tailgates and concessions stands.
I’m ready to hear the booming bands.
I’m ready to see children playing their own small football games on the other sides of the endzones, where they’re isolated from the adults.
I’m ready to feel the cheer of the crowd pulse through my spine.
I’m ready to taste the sweat that comes with covering a football game in the middle of August.
Above all else, I’m just ready to watch football.