No more free Friday nights.

High school football season kicked off last week. That means each Friday night for the next two and a half months, I’ll be in some high school stadium covering a game as a freelance local sportswriter.

It’s not as easy as you might think. Like everything else, if you want to do a good job, you must prepare.

So I print out rosters of each team. I check on the outcome of their past meetings. I make sure I know what classification the schools are in, based on their enrollment numbers. The largest schools are in Class 7A, and the smallest in Class 1A and then you have those in between. I check to see if they play in the same region.

I make sure I have copies of a play chart where I keep track of every play from scrimmage. The headings include: yard line where the play starts, the name of the player involved in the play, the yardage gained or lost from the running play or pass play, whether they make a first down, a fumble recovered or lost, a pass interception, the yardage from a punt, and any extra notes. One side of the chart is for the visiting team, and the other side is for the home team.

At halftime I tabulate all the statistics for each team: first downs, rushes/yards, pass completions/attempts/interceptions, passing yards, fumbles and those lost, penalties/yards and punts/yards.

After the game, I rush down to the field to talk with a few star players and both coaches. I try to find a place to write my article and then email it to the newspaper website. I try to finish within half an hour or so.

I do this for every game I cover. This ritual repeats on Friday nights and sometimes Thursday nights. Wash, rinse, repeat. You’ve got to love it.

Then the weekend passes too soon and I report to my day job at Redstone. Welcome to my world during football season.

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