FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Paying tribute to ‘the boys of fall’

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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We played on grass, mud or whatever was available. If the only option was the concrete parking lot, then hey, that worked too…. until somebody tried to tackle. This is a story about sports, the boys of fall and their cheering sections. 

In the small western North Carolina town where I grew up, sports meant different things. Baseball was a seasonal thing, it was what you did during spring and summer. The only problem was making sure we had enough players. Basketball? That was only if you had a goal at the house or knew someone else who did. But football? Football was a year-round deal. It was the after-meal game at family summer barbeques, it’s what you did at Thanksgiving, going outside to throw the pigskin while the adults tried not to burn the turkey. (And now having assumed that ‘don’t burn the bird’ role, I can respect how hard it was for them).

There’s just something about the game that gets people energized. Grab a couple friends, no matter the age, and you’ve got a game. You can go 3 vs. 3, 8 vs. 8 or in this case, 11 vs. 11. For at least the next 10 weeks, the spotlight falls on our local football fields, come Thursday and Friday nights (and some Saturdays too). Yes, classes have started back and there’s plenty to talk about in terms of everything from politics to festivals. But when Friday comes, the sun goes down, the lights go up and for those few hours, everyone is a kid again, cheering on their team.

In high school, I was a two-sport guy, playing baseball and suiting up as a fullback under those Friday night lights. It’s hard to put into words what those games mean to a player, but I can definitely talk about the cheering section.

Our high school science teacher Mrs. Minton had a cowbell you could identify out of any crowd. Then there was the church choir, who teamed up at games to form the most unique cheering section imaginable. And yes, they stayed in harmony the whole time. I also remember when my grandfather and dad jury-rigged a series of car horns to go off any time the team scored, which was often.

So here we are. It’s time for another high school football season, a chance for each of us to play a role. Are you a first-time parent in the stands? Maybe you’re there with a group or you just feel like going to a game. Do you have a cowbell on hand? I can tell you that your cheers matter. Each of these players hear your voices loud and clear. And they will remember. Let’s give all of the boys of fall some good memories to look back on.

BRIAN CARLTON is the editor for Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. He can be reached at 

To read the entire 2023 High School Football Preview click here.