It wasn’t Friday Night but that didn’t matter to the thousands of fans that descended upon George Blanton Memorial Stadium last night in Shelby for the 2018 NCHSAA High School Football season opening game between the Freedom Patriots and the Shelby Golden Lions.
The game was moved from the traditional Friday Night date to Wednesday because of the festivities and games surrounding the 2018 American Legion World Series, which is also being hosted at Shelby High School and since the baseball event took precedence, it was the football game that was pushed forward.
I have to admit, when I drove up to Blanton Stadium around 5:45 p.m. after a pregame meal at Red Bridges BBQ (That’s another story for another day), the stadium was empty, the parking lot wasn’t bustling with movement, and things were kind of quiet, and I was thinking to myself, this is going to be a buzzkill beginning our season in front of a JV game sized crowd.
Thankfully my thoughts were wrong and around 6:50 the stadium started hopping with some music, pregame action on the field, and the smell of burgers and wings cooking on the grill. By the 7:30 kickoff time, there was an estimated 3,000 fans packed in and ready for a game.
Nope, playing on Wednesday isn’t your typical way to play a high school game, but after eight-months of not having football, these fans were showing that they were willing to come see a game no matter what day it was played on.
Because the game was played on a Wednesday, and two weeks prior to the start of school, there wasn’t your typical pageantry and fanfare you usually associate with a high school football game. There was no bands, the student sections hadn’t really formed up yet, and the crowed was probably a bit smaller than you would typically expect when teams of this magnitude square off, but in the end, it was a game, it counted, and by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it was as energetic and exciting as it gets.
Now I went through the trouble of trying to paint this picture and tell this story for one reason. No, I’m not writing about the action on the field or telling a game summary. No, I’m trying to comfort our fans and followers that despite the low numbers, and despite that somewhat lesser coverage that high school football gets from some local media outlets, and despite that fact that our game is seemingly under attack from outlets far and wide that feel football shouldn’t be played anymore, that high school football is still an event, a community treasure, and something that is held near and dear to our hearts, and football on Friday Night’s (or Wednesday) is something that has been sewn into the fabric of our communities and I for one don’t think that our special game is going anywhere.
Now that the 2018 season is here, I want to thank you all for joining us here at CarolinaPreps.com and I hope you’ll invite some friends to check us out as well. Here at CP, we love two things very dearly. We love our High School Football, and we love the great state of North Carolina that we live in. No, this isn’t Texas High School Football, but it’s still special to us.