By Doug Gorman
Next week I will celebrate my 39th birthday the same way I have celebrated every birthday since I graduated from college?preparing for another week of high school football.
That just goes with the territory when your have a September birthday.
Working birthdays, holidays and weekends is something you simply get used to when you enter the newspaper business, and since I am about to enter my 16th year of writing about high school football, I guess that makes me a veteran.
One thing it doesn't make me is an expert.
Often good-natured readers ask me who is going to have the best team in the Southern Crescent?
I wish I knew, but unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball at my disposal where I can get all the answers.
I do know it won't be dull.
Covering high school football never is.
My newspaper career has taken me to some exciting places since 1988, including Newton County, Carrollton, Tifton and here at the News Daily and Daily Herald.
Each community was different. The first three were in smaller communities, which took getting used to since I had always lived near major metro areas.
Working in Newton County was an easy gig. At the time there was one high school and we published just twice a week.
During my stay, I had the opportunity to cover Dale Carter, who went on to play in the NFL.
In Carrollton I worked for my first daily newspaper and covered several high schools and West Georgia College. I liked it so much I stayed seven years.
I also covered my first state championship game as Bowdon won the Class A title.
In Tifton I was exposed to south Georgia football. It is almost a way of life for citizens of those communities. The Lowndes-Valdosta game is sold out days before the kickoff.
In my six years of working here at the News Daily and Daily Herald, I have also covered some exciting games.
Mt. Zion's state championship game against Oconee County in 1999 has to go down as one of my favorite events. Although Mt. Zion lost the game, their 14-1 record makes them one of the best teams to take the field in the history of Clayton County football.
If there is a drawback to football in the Southern Crescent it has to be the apathy some people feel toward the sport.
Parents are passionate about the game, siblings are passionate about the game, girl friends go out to see their boy friends play and many students and faculty members are passionate about the game.
But those people who don't have ties to the school or children involved don't seem to care, and that's sad.
High School football games are still one of the best ways to bring a community together.
I know many teams in Henry and Clayton County are struggling right now to put winning teams on the field.
However, when the Henry County teams play against each, and Clayton County teams play each other there is no reason why the stadiums shouldn't be packed regardless of the records of the two squads.
After all, high school football is still one of the most entertaining ways to spend a Friday night.
Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Daily. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org