A GRIP ON SPORTS
The weekend is about to dawn. If you count Friday as part of the weekend. And I would guess most of us include the after-work hours of each Friday as part of it. Especially this time of year, when Friday night includes high school football. Read on.
• Around here (and most places), the high school football weekend begins on Thursday night, with a smattering of games occasionally scattered around the area. But it's Friday night the high school players really look forward to, wearing a tie or their jersey to school, eating lunch and attending class with an eye to the clock, all the while counting down the hours until kickoff. The whole week builds to one day, a day that only occurs about a dozen times a year, making the production all that more important. The rarity of games (and the ratio of practices to games) makes football different than most sports, as each contest is the culmination of so many hours of work that the outcome has an outsized importance. In most sports, “we'll get 'em tomorrow,” is often true. In football it never is. Win and the glow last for days. Lose and the agony lingers just as long. It's part (just a part) of what makes the game special – and unique – for those who play. And it's here once again.
• There was a time when Friday was reserved for high school football, Saturday for the colleges and Sunday for the pros. Those days are long gone, of course, with colleges playing nearly every day of the week to ensure television coverage and the pros branching out to two or three days a week. Still, for the longest time, Friday's were left alone for the high school kids, for the small towns and the big city boys to ride buses and play in front of family, friends and fans. But even that tradition has been eroded, with ESPN scheduling at least one game for most Friday nights (next week that game will be Washington State at UNLV), cutting into the possible audience for local prep games. That's no excuse though. Even if you don't have a vested interest in a high school game in your area, there is a good reason to attend one once in a while. They are entertaining, whether you are watching the action on the field or the interaction in the stands. They are inexpensive. And they are retrospective, triggering memories either good or bad from your high school days, memories of times that shaped who you are no matter what your age. If you decide to go I suggest you do what my wife Kim does. Get there early enough to watch pregame warmups. And look for a player who might be a bit too thin or fat or slow or small to play a lot, but is busting his butt, working as hard – or harder – than any of his teammates. Preferably he's guy who may only see the field on special teams or in a reserve role but it doesn't matter. He's still giving every ounce of effort he can. Then root for him. Hard. In 10 years he's the guy you're going to want to hire for that job opening you have.
• Washington State: Christian Caple stepped away from the Cougars this morning to bring us this feature on Eastern Washington quarterback Kyle Padron (above), who already has one win against WSU under his belt. Unlike most WSU fans, I was at that game – sitting in an air-conditioned press box while Kim endured the heat and humidity of a Dallas September in the stands – and saw Padron in action for SMU. Though he wasn't all that sharp throwing the ball – one of his big completions came thanks in large part to a all-too-commong mental breakdown in the Cougar secondary, leaving a receiver wide open to catch a not-so-accurately-thrown ball – his team won and Padron made plays that helped them do that. … Christian also has his Pac-12 power rankings, a post about a new starting linebacker and this morning's usual post. … One Pac-12 basketball note and it comes from Tempe, where ASU seems to have done a good job filling a couple of unexpected coaching vacancies.
• EWU: The tables were turned on SportsLink yesterday when Jim Allen asked a handful of questions of Christian about the Cougars. … Jim also held a live chat in which he answered your questions about the Eagles and their matchup with WSU. … More on Weber State interim head coach Jody Sears, who has ties to both teams playing in Pullman this weekend. … Montana's offensive line has to be really good this weekend.
• Idaho: Josh Wright touches base with Mike Levenseller (left), the longtime receivers coach for WSU who moved down the road after Paul Wulff was let go in Pullman. I would be hard-pressed to name an assistant football coach in this area who is better at his profession than Levy, though you don't have to take my word for it. Just ask the guys who played for him over the past three decades.
• Preps: Yes, the high school football weekend did start last night. Greg Lee covered the battle at Albi won by Lewis and Clark. … In the club-sports-eating-away-at-their-high-school-counterparts category, this short story from the Oregonian might make you cringe a bit.
• Mariners: The M's had the day off but there are a couple things to pass along, including this story about Luis Jimenez and another concerning the M's pitching plans down the stretch. … I include this feature from the San Francisco Chronicle on Giants' third-base coach Tim Flannery for two reasons: It's really interesting and I actually played against Flannery in college – then he was one of my first major league baseball interviews when he was with the Padres.
• Seahawks: It is not too long now until the season begins and the Hawks will begin it with a rookie quarterback. And he's a third-round draft choice who once played minor league baseball (one of his years in the Northwest League). But no one will be surprised if he's successful. … Marshawn Lynch successfully practiced yesterday, though he was limited. … The Cardinals are still trying to lock down the quarterback position.
• We were late with the post yesterday. We made up for it today, mainly because I awoke in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep and decided to just get the day started. Tonight, I'll finish off the day covering a high school football game, one of the first things I did when starting in journalism. In others words, we're getting back to our roots tonight. At least it will still be warm. Until later …