|High School Football, Michigan-style.|
So, one Friday evening we made the trek from New Jersey up to Stamford, and saw Boppy's boy play. My mother pointed out my grandfather on the sideline, and she also pointed out the ambulance that he insisted be at the ready at every game in case a player was badly injured. And we watched Boppy's boy play. And boy, Boppy's boy could play -- he was fast and the other team couldn't catch him. As far as Boppy was concerned, Bobby Valentine was the son he'd never had, and I have no doubt Boppy would have stuck by him even after Valentine managed their beloved Red Sox to more than 90 losses in 2012.
I also remember the last high school football game I attended -- at least, before yesterday. It was 1979. I was in the high school band in Millburn, New Jersey. We'd won a grand total of 6 games during my 3 years there, and we were playing the annual Thanksgiving morning showdown game with our archrivals, Madison. Madison was on its way to yet another state championship, its 3rd in a row. According to the local papers, 10,000 people managed to cram their way in to our high school stadium, and if that might have been a small multiple of the actual attendance, it was still crammed. We scored first. The band played our fight song... whatever it was, no doubt lifted from some venerable college. Our quarterback even taunted the Madison team. Then Madison scored the next 20 points, and we consoled ourselves for having been respectable in defeat.
In Millburn, our games were on Saturday afternoons. The major band rehearsals were Saturday morning, and I could use my "go to services, get out of band rehearsal" card with total impunity. We had two shows a year, and we wore very silly hats. I have no pictures. The only show I can remember, we played "The Love Boat" and had a formation of a boat. Yes, really. (Ironically, we also played "The Love Boat" in college, though there it was more as a sing-along send-up to the more serious fight songs) One year, we had a band camp, but we were never much more sophisticated than marching 8 steps to 5 yards, and making sure our rhythm-challenged cymbal player actually played on the beat. We never played any competitions, just the games and local parades.
|Aaron, during the halftime show.|
We showed up for the game a few minutes before kick-off. Lori also attended West Bloomfield High, but wasn't sure if she'd actually seen a game there during her time in school. She finally decided she had, because she remembered that their helmets -- the team name is "Lakers" -- used to have a boat on them.
The band wore snappy green and black uniforms, and the marchers had stylish hats that I thought would look better without the feather. I noticed that they did not use lyres. The pit players did not play during the first half, and the band had a couple very basic bits -- one for a first down, and a fight song for a score. I didn't get any indication that the band was actually interested in the game; when West Bloomfield scored first, the only reaction I sensed from them was that it was time to play music. Sometimes, the band would play one thing while the cheerleaders were doing another thing. It didn't quite make sense to me.
Students showed up en masse at the start of the 2nd quarter. They stood the entire quarter, and through the halftime show, and did their best to make it noisy for a while. They nearly all wore black. As for the game, it was see-saw for a while. In the first 7 minutes we were treated to a fake punt, and on-side kick (both failed), and plenty of offense. It seemed the last team with the ball might win, until visiting Clarkston scored a pair of touchdowns late in the 2nd quarter. A well-executed 72-yard "hook and ladder" play with just half a minute to go in the half gave Clarkston a 10-point lead and broke the spirit of the West Bloomfield side; the final ended up at 41-18.
|The West Bloomfield High School Band.|
|The players knelt and a cart was brought out, but there was no ambulance for the injured.|