This fall I will spend 15 minutes trying to find a parking spot within a mile of South Range's football stadium on a picture-perfect September night in northeast Ohio.
I'll hear a drum line in the distance and see the stadium lights and remember what it was like when I was a little kid dreaming about the day when I would be good enough to see my name in the newspaper.
I will walk up to gate this fall and pay $3 for a program that contains three pages of information and 67 pages of ads. And I will walk past a 5-foot-6, 120-pound sophomore listed as 5-10, 155 on the roster.
This fall I will buy cavatelli from the Lowellville concession stand as a train goes by. I'll buy hot chocolate from Salem, French fries from Fitch and pepperoni rolls from anyone I can find.
I'll bring a radio to the game this fall and listen as Jim Campbell and John Caparanis tell me the keys to the game are avoiding turnovers and controlling the line of scrimmage and oh-by-the-way today's keys to the game are brought to me by the good folks at Arby's.
This fall I'll grab a seat in the front row of the stands and eat nachos as the two guys behind me argue over who was better, Maurice Clarett or Ted Bell. And I won't take a side, because I don't know.
I will admire the new turf at Mollenkopf Stadium even if it means the Warren Harding Indian mascot will have a tough time getting his spear to stick in the ground. I will smile as a Western Reserve graduate behind me complains about the merger and a Harding graduate complains about the mascot.
I will stand during alma mater this fall, put my hand over my heart during the national anthem and put my arms over my head during "Hang On Sloopy." I will listen to Boardman's band play "Ants Marching" by Dave Matthews Band and watch three other bands play a tribute to The Beatles. And I will secretly wish for a meteor to crush any band that plays "Mr. Roboto."
This fall I will watch Girard run an offense five years ahead of its time and see Cardinal Mooney run an offense 57 years behind its time. I'll watch Warren JFK senior Tony Elzy run for 400 yards, Liberty senior John Humphrey plant a running back five feet into the turf and Howland senior Lance Smith make some poor sophomore look sillier than last week's episode of "Family Guy."
I will watch someone run a triple-reverse on third-and-1 this fall and watch someone else run a fullback dive on second-and-15. And I'll laugh when the fan sitting seven rows back vows to run a triple-reverse up the head coach's fullback dive, if you know what I mean.
This fall I will wait in line for 10 minutes at halftime to use the restroom and wash my hands with 15-year-old bar soap under water that is exactly 32.1 degrees. And I will wipe my hands on my shirt because they ran out of towels midway through the first quarter.
After the game
This fall I will sit in my car for 15 minutes waiting for traffic to leave the parking lot while listening to the postgame scores show on the radio, even though it never gives me any scores. And when I get home, I'll switch between channels to watch the same eight-second highlight on WFMJ, WYTV and WKBN.
I will wake up at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday this fall to buy the sports page and when I see my team on C-8, I'll call the newspaper and complain that they never put our team on the front page except when we lose. And I'll accuse them of having a bias toward parochial schools. Or against them.
And when the season is over, I will pull out my calendar and mark the date of next year's season opener, knowing that next year will be the year we win it all.
Next year always is.
XJoe Scalzo is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at email@example.com.