Unbeatens dot the football landscape
The hills are alive with the sounds of football. So are the valleys and Interstates and dusty crossroads.
All across the areas surrounding the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, the Opequon Creek, Back Creek and the South Branch of the Shenandoah River the football teams are trying to accustom themselves to the stifling heat of early August . . . so they can still be playing in the bristling cold of late November.
Every team is unbeaten. Why, every team is even untied.
The coaches are searching for players who are mobile, agile, hostile and tactile.
“Who are we?” “We are the Mean Green . . . the Red, White and Blue Crew . . . Ready to Function in the Junction . . . Sold on Gold . . . Back on Top with the Orange and Black . . . Thrills in 2015 with Spring Mills.”
Nobody has played a scrimmage game as yet. Nobody has been tested by an outside group of equally unbeaten and untied players.
That will all change soon enough. Too soon for about 80 percent of the teams that will have lost their untarnished and unblemished status by the time the third game is history.
The pre-game rituals will still be in place. The sideline chants and raising four fingers to indicate complete ownership of the fourth quarter will still be in order.
Pre-game huddles with their swaying bodies and loud mantras will have scared nobody, will not have changed the outcome of a single game and will have fooled nobody into believing a first-year starting quarterback and erstwhile jayvee linemen are going to bring a all-winning season to those relatives, friends and neighbors in the stands.
Football has its yearly rites. But those rites are shredded by players who disregard them because they have what it takes to win games — quickness, strength, speed, endurance, a “feeling” for the game and a competitive spirit.
All the hand clapping, all the back slapping and all the pre-game stretching and drills in the world won’t overcome players with natural athleticism who prepare and condition themselves properly.
The first “Hit somebody” shouted from the stands won’t mean anything except it came from a person who didn’t know much about football.
High fives, low fives and celebratory leaps won’t mean a thing if your long snapper is off target . . . if your special teams have 11 players at a time who don’t get in the game except for three or four plays a half . . . if you can’t kick extra points because of poor snaps, a poor kicker or a lack of coordinated blocking . . . your punter averages 20 yards a try . . . your defensive secondary is populated with players who don’t know what to do when confronted with opponents who flood their area with more than one receiver.
The teams with linemen whose fundamentals get them on the field instead of their size and weight, with linebackers who dull the ground offense of opponents and whose receivers run for considerable yardage after making catches will win their season opener and keep winning when even October is gone.
Rituals don’t win games. People yelling from the stands don’t win games. Players just hoping for the best don’t win games.
The unbeatens and untieds are everywhere.
The winless and nearly winless will replace them very quickly.
Football games can be won by athletes without tons of ability.
But those types of players are well-conditioned, have learned the fundamentals of the sport, realize their limitations and don’t ever listen to somebody yelling “Hit Somebody.”