Football outlook remains optimistic

With just under 20 days until the high school football season kicks off in the Ohio Valley, optimism abounds at each school’s preseason camp.

As I’ve traveled to various team picture days and talked to some of the players, their goals for the season are straight-forward and simple.

Go 10-0.

Of course, it would take a 15-0 record to win a state title, which is what every teenage football player dreams about at night. Then, there’s the fact that several teams in our coverage area play each other, so not all 11 teams could go undefeated in the regular season.

Some, though, certainly have the potential to do so.

The work put in these next few weeks will determine if goals will be met and if games will be won. Wearing t-shirts and shorts doesn’t carry with it the pride of donning a game jersey on Friday night, but practice at high noon on a Tuesday in August, carries the same weight as a game under the lights.

The high school football season through the end of August to the beginning of November is often referred to as “the fastest 10 weeks of the year.” So, it’s so important for kids to take advantage of each moment to create the memories that will stay with them forever. Even when two-a-day sessions seem like they’ll never end, decades from now is when that physical exhaustion will seem like the best days of your life.

By talking to dozens of kids this past week, they all seem to realize that they may, indeed, be in the prime of their life. They do know that they get to hang out and play football with the best friends they’ll ever make in their lifetime.

Playing football certainly creates a special bond between teammates, on and off the field.

Just like the practices make for better gameplay, creating chemistry out of football makes for better cohesion in a game situation.

The cover story for this year’s award-winning publication, The Gridiron, focuses on the life and times of being an offensive and defensive lineman. These unsung heroes of the field can start and finish a play. Every lineman I’ve talked to has gone out of their way to tell me how important communication is during game situations. With verbal and nonverbal cues, on both sides of the ball, it’s these guys who must set the tone for the remainder of a given play to work, or not work.

But at this moment, all players must be ready to work.

Most coaches have their starters lined up and the depth chart set. However, there are likely some role positions to fill on almost every team in the area. Those guys, the ones who are sometimes seen but not always heard, can get their personal points across this summer with loyalty, dedication and a strong work ethic.

Those are traits all players most possess. Right now, there is one trait that all teams currently possess: optimism.

The hope is for all teams to turn that optimistic approach into opportunistic results.

It just has to start in the summer.

(Peaslee is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He can be contacted at mpeaslee@heraldstaronline.com and followed on Twitter at @HSDTsports)