I hate clichés and I try my best to refrain from them in my writings, but pardon me as I utter the phrase 'behind every dark cloud, there's a silver lining' when describing the events of the past year in Clayton County.

I've been covering sports on this side of town for about a year-and-a-half and I've seen enough controversy, scandal and political upheaval to script a cable television reality series.

But through all the stinch of garbage, is the sweet smell of roses coming from the student-athletes who've continued to excel in spite of the miscues by those adults charged with overseeing their education and local government policies.

Last academic year, several 2008 graduates signed college scholarships in every sport from Bowl Championship Series schools to small two-year institutions.

There also was great feats from underclassman like Lovejoy's D.J. Smith, who captured championship glory by winning the gold medal in the high jump at the state spring track & field meet.

This football season, four teams enter play this week with a plus .500 record in the standings. Squads such as North Clayton (7-1), Mt. Zion (6-3), Jonesboro (5-3) and Riverdale (5-3) have ruled the land with an iron fist.

The Eagles and Bulldogs have already clinched playoff berths with North Clayton standing one victory away from winning the Region 4-AAAA championship. Jonesboro and Riverdale are in the thick of it, knocking on the door of postseason contention.

Yet, with all that happening on the gridiron, there are way too many empty seats at games on Thursday and Friday nights.

It's gotten to the point where I can count the number of fans without losing track or getting tired. The apathy from the community is so pathetic.

Everybody has so much to say or complain about, and granted it's been justified, however, there's some pretty good football going on in the community and nobody's coming out to support the kids.

Makes me break into that classic Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway classic asking Clayton County the question -- "Where is the Love"?

I'm guessing some teachers and administrators show up, but I don't know them by face and I'm sure that the last thing they want to see at the end of their day is more students.

I once tried to e-mail a school board representative in reference to her thoughts on the Jonesboro-Forest Park game, which is the oldest rivalry in Clayton County, but she never replied.

Which makes me wonder, do any board members or superintendent Dr. John Thompson come to check out the action?

I did see a local candidate once at Tara Stadium, but we all know he was there to put fliers under people's windshield wipers, shake hands and kiss babies more than to see Mt. Zion's speedy backfield combo run past Dutchtown.

Listen, I know it's rough going to a football game after a long day at work, but I promise if you come out, like the current presidential race, you'll take a glimpse into the future of positive things to come. Now, that's change you can belive in.

I'm Rory Sharrock and I approve this message.

Rory Sharrock is a sportswriter for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at rsharrock@news-daily.com