There’s something special about your first time.
Covering a high school football game, that is.
They say it’s one of the toughest things you can do as a sports journalist — keep stats of a game while keeping track of play-by-play and trying to keep the sequence of events and the general tenor of the game straight in your head so that you can effectively write about it afterward.
Sure, Thursday wasn’t my first time at the dance, but it was my first game of the 2005 season, and it always takes a couple of plays to shake off nine months worth of rust. It’s a lot like being a player in that respect. Once you get smacked in the mouth once, you’re good to go. Until then, there are some jitters.
I was feeling especially jittery before Thursday’s Alhambra-Ygnacio Valley game at Mt. Diablo High School for some unusual reasons.
Thanks to my hare-brained idea to go through one day of two-a-day practices with the Warriors at the start of the season and the ensuing first-person account, not to mention the subsequent lengthy blog entry, I discovered that I was something of a minor celebrity at the game.
Several folks who read the special prep football section and saw my ugly mug in the paper took the opportunity to approach me and comment on the story.
Alhambra coach Dave Silveira had the line of the night when I spoke with him before the game.
"I’m talking to a crazy man," Silveira said with a grin.
"Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot," I replied.
"Deservedly so," he said.
YV tight end/defensive end Gary Graffort ran a close second.
"What’s up, Stonewall," he quipped, referencing my claim that I "stonewalled him" in practice.
Here’s where I come clean. I effectively blocked him a couple of times. Mostly, though, he got his hands on my pads and used that 6-foot-5 wingspan to drive me around like a bus.
After all the pregame chatter and jitters, I shook it off and got down to the task at hand. Then I remembered just exactly how lucky I am. I mean, I get paid to cover high school football. That, folks, is one heck of a lot better than working.