Football season is here! You can almost smell it in the air.
And you can certainly see it in the eager anticipation written on the faces of every high school student who’s been sweating it out on the practice field for nearly two weeks now.
In Sampson County, football is a big deal, a family affair that brings moms and dads, sisters and brothers, neices and nephews, along with the extended group of high school friends — even if your high school days were long, long ago — together to watch the game, root on the teams and reminesce about every game since the beginning of time.
And whether it’s the Clinton Dark Horses or the Union Spartans; the Lakewood Leoapards, the Midway Raiders, the Hobbton Wildcats of the Harrells Christian Academy Crusaders, bleachers will be full and excitement will be high.
It starts Friday night, with the now annual Pigskin Jamboree, yet another athletic event that got its roots in the heart and mind of the late Nathan Gay and another fondly rememberd and locally renowned coach, Robert Hill.
While there won’t be an official score as the young men hit the gridiron at Clinton High’s Dark Horse Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday night, many will be tallying up the tackles, the punts, the passes and, of course, the touchdowns, figuring their team a winner even though there won’t actually be one announced in the series of scrimmages that will take place.
It’s a teaching experience with an audience, the first opportunity for many of the young men to suit up and use the athletic prowess they’ve been honing for the last few weeks. For the fans, it will be their first real glimpse at what their favorite team will have to offer this season.
And, of course, for the sideline quarterbacks, it will be an opportunity for them to weed through what works and what doesn’t so they, in turn, can offer their two-cents worth to the coaches before the real games start in earnest, with the first games of the season on Aug. 17.
And everyone will have a great time. They always do. It’s the prelude to the season, the welcome mat for a time in many Sampsonsians’ lives when all else will take a back seat to Friday nights.
So grab the family, come to the field, buy a snack and enjoy the night.
It’s part of the spirit of the game, a season of good times that brightens this county, putting a little bounce back into the steps of many who’ve grown tired of the oppressive heat and the lull of summer.
Football season is upon us. The pigskin’s out of the barn. Rally behind your team, support them every chance you get and let the kickoff get under way. Sampson County’s ready.