It’s truly a wonderful time of year
Brad Scott had waited for that moment all his life the first official practice as head coach of his football program.
He probably visualized it countless times. He might have stood in front of the mirror and adjusted his cap and made sure his whistle was hanging just right. He likely went over his practice schedule more than one.
Ask any high school football coach and he can probably recall that first practice.
Had Scott had it his way, his DeSoto Wildcats would have begun fall workouts a lot earlier, like, say, last spring when the young coach and English teacher was lured away from Olathe South.
Of course, the Kansas State High School Activities Association has rules against such a notion so, like everyone else, Scott was forced to wait until Aug. 14 to begin fall workouts.
So, as the clock struck midnight as Sunday night officially turned into Monday morning on the night of Aug. 13, the Wildcats took to the field for the first time this season.
Midnight madness had taken on new meaning. He got teased by other coaches at DeSoto playfully, mind you. How can you be critical of a guy with this kind of passion for his job?
Under the lights, his Wildcats, most of whom have little or no varsity experience, began preparing for a season that will be a great learning experience for everyone involved with the DeSoto program.
Scott has no returning upperclassmen. The senior class stayed together and went to Mill Valley High. Thus, Scott will rebuild a program from the ground up using young players who only figure to get better with each game and each practice.
Every moment on the field is important and you have to admire Scott for making the best of what some might call a tough situation. The midnight practice might someday become a tradition at DeSoto a symbol of a program's genesis.
That's the wonderful thing about this time of year. Optimism reigns supreme.
There are genuine feelings that the level of energy and enthusiasm put in on the practice field will pay dividends two- and three-times over each Friday night. Of course, when you consider that every football team in the area is putting in the same type of effort these days, said dividends can not be measured with mere wins and losses.
Call high school football a practical lesson in sweat equity.
Aaron Barnett knows a thing or two about building a football program, not that he would even begin to say his Eudora High program is where he wants it to be.
But consider as Barnett enters his third season as the head of a Cardinal program that the two straight 6-3 seasons Eudora has strung together are the school's best seasons since get this 1972.
Richard Nixon was in office.
Disco hadn't yet been born.
Nor had anyone who has played football at Eudora in the last eight years.
"This program has made great strides in the last couple of years," Barnett said. "But we're not there yet."
There, in this case, is a Frontier League title and a trip to the Kansas Class 4A playoffs.
If things go right, that road could go right through DeSoto.
Whether that's in the Cards this year remains to be seen. They open the season at Paola and Louisburg, the league's most dominant teams in the 1990s.
"I really like being a football coach," he said. "There are a lot of things about me. I'm a teacher and a husband, but I am measured by my ability as a football coach. That doesn't bother me.
"I like walking downtown and having people know I am the Eudora High football coach."
He revels in it. Takes pride in it and - as a result it is beginning to rub off on his players. The stigma, the embarrassment of playing football at Eudora High is a thing of the past. There is great pride in representing Eudora each Friday night.
Win or lose, that's what it's all about.