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Back to Friday Night Lights

By Dennis Minich

Sports lends itself to hyperbole. People always talk about “the best game” or “the best player” or GOAT (greatest of all time.) I tend to try and stay away from such comments primarily because I can barely remember yesterday, let alone events from years ago.

Of course, there are moments primarily from college and pro games that stand out in my mind and while I might remember how excited or disappointed I was, picking out a “best-ever” something is hard to manage. It is especially hard to remember things in the high school world. Having covered Friday Night Lights for the better part of 45 years, I have seen a lot of football games.

I do remember a tackle made by a Harrisonville player in the late 1990s in Warrensburg. It was one of the coolest hits I can ever remember seeing. It was like watching the Warrensburg player hit an invisible wall. One second he was running, the next second he was flat on his back. I also remember a remarkable run by Harrisonville’s Jeremy Hamilton, a quarterback back in the day. I remember seeing him run down the field into a scrum of 15 players and somehow come out on the other side. Such memories are few.

But I think I will remember last Friday’s HHS opener against Wayne Hills. First off, the oddity of playing a team from New Jersey. I thought it was quite a stretch when Midway played a team in Tennessee a couple of years ago, but New Jersey? Then to hear all of the hype, the guys from Joisey (that’s how it’s pronounced back east). They’ve won like 10 state titles in the past 15 years and have produced an NFL player.

Then the game itself was very remarkable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like, “we can’t win” to “we’ve got this” to “there it goes, to “wow” so many times in one night. I think the game could have gone on for hours and continued to be entertaining.

It was not the prettiest of efforts. Both teams made mistakes and both teams missed big opportunities. But what the game may have lacked in fundamentals was more than made up for in enthusiasm and effort. There were literally two teams unwilling to lose.

Harrisonville senior runningback Jace Reynolds is a rare talent. It is hard telling how many records will fall. I think he holds most of them anyway. But he is far from a one-man team, the Wildcats have talent all over the field and while I don’t know if it’s a championship caliber team, it is certainly a very good team. Well worth the time to go watch.

It was also fun watching the students in the stands. They were having a big time as well.

Although it was a tad hot at gametime, when the sun set and the breeze kicked in it was a very pleasant night. I thought it is nice to have football back. I know we had a season last year, but it didn’t seem right. Every game was more a story that there were enough players healthy to play than what the games meant. So, in some respects it seems like it’s been a couple of years since we’ve really seen high school football. And it was great to watch.

I don’t want to focus solely on the Wildcats though. There were some outstanding games from teams throughout the area. I kept in constant contact with Sports Editor Christopher Tenpenny who was at the Adrian vs. Butler game. We kept each other updated and both wished we could also be watching the other game.

And then Drexel and Archie both showed why they are top-10 teams in the eight-man ranks posting big wins.

And I have heard stories the Midway loss to Lincoln was much closer than the final score indicated. With time, the Vikings are going to win some games as well.

I will remember Friday night. It might not be the GOAT. It might not be the most significant of nights. It might not even be the best of the season. But it sure was fun.

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