Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Great appetizer before kickoff!

I think the best thing about high school football is the wait, the anticipation. You spend the summer waiting and the players spend the summer working. Everybody has the same dream.....winning the state.

I think the worst part about high school football is the wait, the anticipation. You spend the summer with nothing to watch on TV and the players spend the summer working in the heat, sometimes twice a day, getting ready to run plays for games that seem like they will never come.

Well I promise you, we're close now. Kickoff is on Aug. 17 and all the things that make high school football great are just around the corner. There will be games people will talk about 20 years from now (see Butler-Independence Nov. 2 or hopefully Nov. 3).

There'll be players who might not shine in college but could just have legendary seasons in high school this fall (see Eric Breitenstein at Watauga). And there will be stories, hundreds of great stories:

-- Can Catholic get back to a fourth straight title game using the Wing-T offense that's extra dependent on an offensive backfield when it has to use a brand new offensive backfield?

-- Can Independence do it again and win an eighth straight state title and extend their win streak to 124? -- Is West Charlotte really back?

-- Can Butler really do it, and stop The Streak?

-- Can Shelby 3-peat? Man, I can't wait. And if you're like me, you can't wait until Aug. 17.

So here's the great appetizer I promised at the beginning. On Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., Independence is at Charlotte Catholic in a pretty cool little scrimmage. Catholic has been to three straight state title games. Independence to seven. Even by my lousy math, that's 10 straight title appearances between the two. The teams tried to play last year at Indy but Mother Nature spoiled that one with a wicked thunderstorm just before kickoff.

So we move to Catholic this year, and the Cougars have the best fans in Charlotte, so there will be a great atmosphere, a regular season atmosphere, and it'll be the first time under the lights for two very important new Patriots: sophomore quarterback Anthony Carrothers and senior tailback Rod Chisholm.

Chisholm left West Charlotte after winning Observer player of the year honors last year. Carrothers left Vance after starting as a freshman and Pats coach Tom Knotts thinks the undersized 5-foot-8 QB can go after some of the state, county and school records set by former Patriots Chris Leak and Joe Cox.

Me? I can't wait to see Carrothers try. I can't wait to see Butler try. I can't wait to see Shelby or West Charlotte or Watauga try. That's what makes high school football so much fun. See ya at the game!

-- Langston Wertz Jr. (lwertz@charlotteobserver.com)