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Some fond and not- so-fond memories of high school football

by John G. Miller

Managing Editor

This time of year brings back many memories of my time spent in The Exponent Telegram's sports department. Yes, many memories ... not all of them good.

You see, this time of year marks the beginning of a hectic sports schedule. Most sports departments slow down in the summertime. At least a little.

But high school football marks the start of a virtual non-stop barrage of busy, busy nights.

In our area, West Virginia University and high school football have great followings. Add in other colleges, various other high school sports, the NFL, the end of the baseball season, etc., and you can see why sports writers have grown to have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

They keep very busy. The upside is they get to see some great games. The downside is they seldom please everyone.

That's because everybody wants something done on "their team."

I can still vividly recall a 7 a.m. call on a Saturday morning after leaving the office a few hours earlier. Some coach didn't like his team's coverage. Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of giving out my home phone number and was too cheap to buy an answering machine.

Of course, there were many great nights spent in area press boxes, on the sidelines and hours chatting with area coaches, many of whom are hard working, respected individuals who really teach their players valuable lessons in life.

There were many, but this time of year I always think of a special few because they were just so unforgettable.

Bridgeport's Wayne "Smiley" Jamison was a class act on the field. So was the late Gary Barnette. Both taught their players well, and their players responded by achieving great things on and off the field.

Of course, I can't talk about high school sports without poking fun at some of the coaches. You see coaches speak their own language, appropriately labeled "coachspeak."

You've probably heard about the coach who told his players to line up in a circle. Obviously, he wasn't a geometry teacher.

Or how about the guy who told his team to pair off in threes?

Or the guy who tried to make his players realize they could compete with the team they were playing by telling them, "Hey, they put their pants on the same way we do ... one leg at a time." What he didn't tell them was that the opponent outweighed them 50 pounds per man and had two running backs college coaches were drooling over.

After helping the sports department with their Football Preview 2003 edition, which appears in today's newspaper, I see many of today's young coaches are continuing the time-honored tradition of "coachspeak."

I can also tell, though, that the tradition of working hard and teaching more than just the game apparently is continuing as well.

Hopefully tonight, or at some point this season, you'll stop by a game and see for yourself.

As for now, it's time to tee it up and kick off ... yep, there were plenty of good memories.

Managing Editor John G. Miller can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at jmiller@exponent-telegram.com