Hey there football fans. Ever wonder what it's like in the press box or what goes on behind the scenes of a high school football game? Lots of things go on to make your experience smooth and enjoyable. Here's what it was like at a recent game.
Kickoff for this game was 7:30 so I arrived at the game at 5:30. Yes, a full two hours before kickoff. A couple of tailgaters were already there with hot coals on the grill. Since we had just got a new sound system earlier in the week, I went straight to the press box to drop my stuff off and do a quick sound check. Since our marching band getting on the field to practice their competition show they were performing at halftime, there wasn't much I could do. It worked out for the better anyway, since we couldn't get the main microphone to work. Less than an hour before kickoff we find a different mike cord was hooked up to the mike and we finally got it at the level we wanted.
90 Minutes To Kickoff - I grab a quick bite to eat in the booth. Pizza, diet coke, and some chips. It went against my usual hamburger pre game meal with the tailgaters but with trying to figure out the sound system, I didn't really have time to get back down to the tailgate.
70 Minutes To Kickoff - Asst. Band Director makes it up there to go over pre game and halftime festivities. I tell her I had received an e-mail earlier in the day about our booster club wanting to recognize our business sponsors at halftime. She says the band is doing their entire competition show and it is eight minutes long. I told her we'll have the band go first since it would take longer to get them on and off the field. Once the band is exiting the field, we can get the boosters on there to properly recognize them. By having the boosters go second, this would also give them more time to get them lined up the way they want them and they'll have time to get me any last minute changes. Visitor team, the Chester Cyclones, arrive.
60 Minutes To Kickoff - Band finally finishes up their pre game practice as about 15 of our players come out for pre game warmup. We crank up some music and I finish chatting with some guys from our local radio broadcast crew. I tell my spotter to go let our booster club president know the change in plans for halftime.
55 Minutes To Kickoff - The rest of our team comes out on the field and I make my way down to field level to wish our coaching staff good luck. I always like to do this to get a feel of the game and to look at our guys to see how focused we are prior to game time.
40 Minutes To Kickoff - The fans are steadily filing in. Some make their way to the concession stand for something to eat while others stake out their favorite spot in the stands. I make my way back upstairs and write down the starting lineups for both teams. My spotter gets back up from to the booth and says everything is ok for halftime.
30 Minutes To Kickoff - I make a few pre game announcements such as where fans can get team apparrel, programs, concessions, thank our local radio guys for broadcasting the games. Clock keeper goes down to talk with the refs. The officials always want to do this so they can be advised of anything special going on at halftime or prior to the game. He tells them we'll have a 20 minute halftime so we can get everything in with the band and sponsor recognition. If it runs over, we can get a delay of game penalty to start the second half. As you can tell, it's important to get everything done on time. The ref usually tells them to watch him to either stop the clock or wind it.
20 Minutes To Kickoff - Announce starting lineups. High school student who will sing the National Anthem makes his way upstairs. I tell him we'll do it in 10 minutes.
10 Minutes To Kickoff - National Anthem is performed.
5 Minutes To Kickoff - Captains for both teams walk out to midfield for the coin toss. We win the toss and we'll receive the kicoff.
3 Minutes To Kickoff - Both squads captains make their way to opposite ends of the field to meet the rest of their teams to run out on the field just prior to kickoff.
The first half goes well and we take a 12-7 lead into the locker room. The band goes out on the field to begin their show. The president of the booster club looks frantic and goes out on the field to talk to the band director. We could tell in the booth that she is deciding to change the order of halftime all the while the clock continues to tick. We are operating on a very tight schedule and we really can't afford this delay to the program. They get things worked out and we do the booster club first instead. I just roll with it upstairs and hurry through the ceremony quicker than I wanted to. We get through that and the band begins their performance with 11 minutes left in halftime. With two minutes left on the clock for halftime, our team comes out of the locker room and and the band begins to leave the field. We barely make it in time.
In the end, our team loses by three points in a classic high school game of two top 10 teams in South Carolina 3A. The fans file out, two radio stations pack up, one newspaper guy stays late to file his story on the wireless internet the school has. I head home to update our team's website. It's midnight I'm headed to bed only to have the alarm clock go off in six and half hours. Son has his pee wee football team pictures and a game and my daughter has to get ready for a middle school cheerleading competition. It makes for a long day, but if you love football like I do, it really doesn't seem that long. Even with a tough loss that we endured.