Season’s over, but memories remain
|By Aaron Schultz|
All three high school football teams I cover fell in the section semifinals last week, ending their seasons.
While, no doubt, all three teams would have liked to have been playing in the section championship this past Friday, they didn’t get that chance.
Whenever a high school season comes to an end, it is tough on the players, at least most of the time.
But, it is especially tough on seniors; many, if not most, of them will never compete in that sport in organized competition again.
Of course, certain sports are a lot easier to continue playing when one’s high school career is over than others.
Baseball, volleyball, and basketball, just to name a few, have organized leagues for us old men and women.
While these leagues are probably not nearly as competitive as high school athletics, they do give people a chance to continue playing their favorite sport at a competitive level.
Now, the one sport where you don’t see too many people continue playing, once high school is over, is football.
There are some select semi-pro leagues, and you could probably always find a flag-football league, but it is not the same.
The commitment level, practice time, and time you put into it will never be the same as during your high school playing days.
I don’t want to forget about those high school football players that do move on to the college ranks, but for this column, sorry, I am going to leave you all out.
And yes, there usually is a few select players that continue playing football at college, but those are in the minority.
Most of us, including myself, walk off the football field for the final time in high school.
Looking back at my final game in high school the year was 1994, I was a senior at Lester Prairie High School, and we were playing Braham in the Section 3C semifinals.
Yep, the classes were a little different back then, from now.
Back in the day, at least my day, there were just five classes AA, A, B, C, and nine-man.
We lost to Braham 27-6, although it was just 12-6 until the final four minutes of the game.
I don’t remember much about that game anymore, other than the fact that I thought we should have won it.
But, I do remember walking off the field for the final time, tired, beat up, disappointed, thinking that if we had only played a little better, we would have won.
Still, I look back at that time and smile. Those days of high school football were fantastic, and some of my best memories of high school.
And the fact that I never played football again, I think, make those memories even more special.
I had chances to continue my football career in college, but went the baseball route instead, and thinking about it, it was a good thing I went that way.
As much of a wreck as my body is now, I don’t even want to think about how much worse it would be if I had played college football.
I am sure many of the seniors from the Trojans, Lakers, and Bulldogs will, in due time, look back at their high school football days, and smile, thinking back to some of their own memories.
To me, that is as important as wins and losses, if not more.
In fact, one of my favorite, while not my best, memories of high school football is from my junior season.
That year, we were a lowly 2-6 on the season, and fell out of the playoffs in the last game.
In that last game, we lost to Cleveland 6-0.
In the final two games of that season, we played Cleveland and McLeod West, and I was given the nod at quarterback.
Yep, two games playing quarterback in my high school career, and I led our team to a total of zero points.
See, I stepped in when our starting and back-up quarterbacks got hurt, and were unable to play.
Up until then, I had played, and practiced, entirely at tight end the whole season.
While I don’t think I played bad, the stats and score would sure tell me that I am wrong.
Then, as I was looking back through some old Journals from my high school days to get some scores, and refresh my memory a little bit, I found a quote.
After reading the quote, from Bulldog head coach Joe Scoblic, I have no doubt that I was an excellent high school quarterback.
The quote is from after we lost to McLeod West 18-0, and it goes like this, “Offensively, Schultz played super in his first game at quarterback. He made a number of completions, and didn’t fumble at all in the wet conditions.”
You got to know that when a coach brings up that you didn’t fumble in a game, it’s a big deal.
Still, McLeod West was undefeated at the time, and one of the best teams in the state in Class C, so I actually did probably play alright against them.
Then, in the next game against Cleveland, I started out playing well, as we started the game in a no-huddle.
I just called my own plays at the line of scrimmage, and it worked for a while, until stupid penalties ended the drive.
However, later on in the game, we were at first-and-goal from the about the four-yard line, and I called an audible out of a run and into a pass, then threw an interception.
Needless to say, I didn’t play all that well in that game, and it was my last at quarterback in my career.
The next year, I was moved to center on the offensive line.
For years after that game, I was still getting crap from my former teammates, especially the seniors, for calling that audible.
I would tell you the audible, but I am not sure what coach Scoblic uses for audibles these days, and don’t want to give away any secrets.
Well, I guess that is enough high school football memories from me for now. But don’t worry, I’ll be back with even more somewhere down the road.