Covering high school football on Friday nights certainly isn’t the worst way to make a living, but tonight will be extra special for me. And not just because I won’t have to make that lovely commute from Modesto to Pleasanton or Walnut Creek or any other such locale west of Altamont Pass. (Thanks, Freedom, for scheduling a game so close to my home. I owe you one.)
No, tonight will be special because, thanks to Grace Davis High School’s lack of a football stadium, the game will be played at my old stomping ground, Thomas Downey High School. It’s been nine long years since I set foot in that stadium on a Friday night, but oh what lasting memories I forged there.
OK, so the truth is I never played football in high school, or anywhere besides the street in front of my grandmother’s house and the occasional grassy field at recess. The other truth is that I actually only went to one football game in my four years of high school: our homecoming game my senior year. I think we won, but I honestly don’t recall.
It’s not that I don’t have pride in my school … I certainly do, but at the time I was just oblivious to how much fun high school sports can be. I played golf at Downey, which barely counts, and I went to basketball games only because the coach was one of my favorite teachers and I kept stats for him.
I was reintroduced (for the first time, you might say) to high school sports when I got my first sports writing job at the Patterson Irrigator in February 2003. Since then, prep sports have been a major part of my job and my life, and I’ve enjoyed them more than I ever did when I was a high school student.
I only wish it were my beloved Knights taking the field against the Falcons tonight … Davis’ unfortunate green and yellow will surely clash with my memories of Downey’s regal blue, white and silver (where’d all the silver go?). That’s OK. At least I’ll have a nice, quick drive home.