Friday, August 24, 2007

And in the moments before kickoff....

Scenes prior to the start of Friday's Myers Park at Charlotte Catholic game.


6:37: I arrive on Catholic's campus, driving my car through a maze of people on a one-lane driveway. Well, most days it's two lanes, but some folks got here awful early for a 7:30 p.m. start and parked well, lining one half of the driveway that winds through campus. I see hundreds of Myers Park parents wearing green T-shirts that read "Mustangs" on the front. Every year, my bosses ask me to rate the best fans and I never include Myers Park. The bosses only want five schools. If I did a sixth, it would definitely be the Mustangs’ loyalists. Combined with the loyal Catholic crowd, all dressed in red, this has the feel of a small college Saturday.

Other than the fact that it's hot enough to bake cookies, this is the perfect high school football environment.


6:45: After I sat in the air conditioning of the car for a few minutes, almost trying to hold my breath and make the cool air last, I get out. There is a huge portable grill smoking two parking spaces from me and about 15 Catholic students tailgating. The boys are shirtless and two of them are practicing long snapping and punting. The girls sip some beverages and laugh and talk on their cell phones.


The beverages are legal, by the way.

6:50: The press box feels like Key West in June. It's all dead air and thick. Two white fans on either side are blowing outward, attempting to keep suck the hot air out. It’s not working out too well. I'm tempted to turn one of the fans towards me. Forget about air blowing out.

6:52: Myers Park's team descends down the stairs and runs in front of an already strong crowd. Kickoff isn't until 7:30 Their fans go wild.

6:56: Myers Park’s band arrives, sans uniforms (and who can blame them). Everyone has on khaki shorts and white T-shirts. Outside, you can see hundreds of people walking towards the field. I’m thinking, “I hope the thunderstorms hold off.” But the rock music blaring over the PA is so loud I can’t really hear myself think. I do miss two cellphone calls because I don’t hear it ring.

When I look at the phone, my wife’s name, Whitni, shows up. I’m kind of glad I missed the calls (honey-do lists you know).

Kidding, kidding.

7:00: Wait guys, I’ll be back in a minute. It’s so hot in the press box, I gotta walk outside. I think Ethiopia feels better than this.

7:08: I’m back. I have discovered that walking into a cement enclosed men’s bathroom with no ventilation is not necessarily the best idea to enter when it’s 95 degrees. But as I went to go and get a Powerade, I saw several hundred Catholic students literally run into the stadium. Most of them had their faces, legs or arms painted red. My favorite was a guy with a cowboy hat on, red face paint, a fake plastic gun on his waist and a red handkerchief over his nose and mouth.

7:23: Excuse me gotta stand up now. Catholic’s band is about to play “The Star Spangled Banner.”

7:30: Kickoff. A great Friday night of football is ahead.

I can’t wait to see it.

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

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catholic played to mid season form which didn't happen against South Meck last week. Over 200 yards in the air...did Coach Oddo lose his playbook?????

Catholic's defense played tough and Myers Park helped out with fumbles on the wrong side of the field. Final Catholic 35 and Myers Park 18.

Anonymous said...

Langston this was your best blog yet. Funny and informative. Can you do this every week? And come see Butler!

Anonymous said...

I was at the game last night Langston. Like your observations here. Wrong team won. Great nite though

Anonymous said...

We're going to have a tough practice monday at the Park. Kind of dreading it. Too many face masks, too many turnovers. We played awful.

Anonymous said...

Wrong team won? How do you figure?

Anonymous said...

Langston, I'm gonna stop hating. You're a great writer and this was funny as hell. Like my school mate said you do need to come to Butler. We play Vance at home Friday.