Wednesday, October 1, 2008
As the mind wandered on a day off, I started thinking about the things that make covering high school football an often unusual and interesting experience. Throughout the years, I've been to nearly every venue imaginable. I've seen hundreds of marching bands (all of whom seem to play Styx at some point). I've tasted the wares of many local concession stand (had a tooth break in half on a "soft" pretzel before the start of last year's Bethel Park at Canon-Mac game). I've witness some good football. I've covered some incredible athletes. I've also seen my share of stinkers.
So, in an effort to break from the ordinary, I compiled a list of favorites, likes and dislikes about the local high school football scene.
Best aura: Wash High Stadium
Just an old-school stadium. Upon entering, it just feels like a place legends played. And so many have, from Brian Davis to Dan Mozes to Ted Vactor. Also, you have to respect a place that has fielded six WPIAL champions and the only PIAA football champion from Washington and Greene counties.
Best concessions: Beth-Center
Avella is noted for pepperoni rolls. South Side Beaver makes some great stuff as well, but nothing compares to the diverse and tasty menu offered at Beth-Center.
Favorite moment: Ringing the ball after a Charleroi home win
Nestled outside the end zone on the way to the home locker room, a long-standing bell is rung every time the Cougars win at home. Think about the all-time greats who rang that bell.
Wildest moment: Haven't covered the Monessen at Charleroi game in some time (too bad the game couldn't happen this year) but I can remember Monessen fans situating a giant "M" on the hillside along the Westmoreland County side on the Mon River. The Greyhounds didn't need any water, they just let the sign burn.
Best facility: South Fayette. The Lions home field is not only the best WPIAL facility I've covered a game from, it's nicer than most small college stadiums in the area. The WPIAL should start hosting events there.
Scariest steps: Some stadiums are rickety, some are in dire need of repair, but it takes a special person to climb the steps which lead to the press box at Ringgold's Joe Montana Stadium. Word to the wise, in case of an ice storm, stay in the stands.
Loudest students: Canon-McMillan, hands down.
Oddest site: On a cool fall Friday night, nothing says eerie like playing a Tri-County South Conference game at Jefferson-Morgan's Parker Field. A cemetery is situation beside the field. Across the street is one of the more high-pressure car washes money can buy. J-M also wins the prize for best press box food. Nothing like the annual prime rib night in Jefferson.
Favorite entrance: Fort Cherry walking down the hill to Jim Garry Stadium.
Most imposing sign: If Ringgold isn't motivated with the giant Joe Montana Stadium sign lingering between the visitor's sideline and the baseball field, I can't imagine what the Rams would need for motivation.
Readers, the Varsity Letters wants to know what makes your favorite place to watch high school football unique.