With all due respect to the first half of the 2021 high school football season, this weekend feels like actual football weather for the first time.
There is a chill in the air, a breeze blowing, and I even noticed leaves starting to fall — all of those combine for the perfect recipe for Friday night football.
Young men practice all summer in the Georgia heat preparing for the season, and those early games are played with that same feeling.
But as the calendar starts to turn toward October, autumn starts to take over.
Maybe it is just me, but in the cooler temperatures, players seem faster, uniform colors seem brighter, bands sound crisper, and the overall experience is more football-like. By the time the playoffs get here in mid-November, these will be the expected temperatures.
It’s also a reminder the postseason is just around the corner. The culmination of the entire offseason program, summer camps and regular season games builds up for the emotion and pageantry of the playoffs.
I am not referring to extremes here. Temperatures in the 50s seem ideal. The Ice Bowl of 1967 in Green Bay is not the goal. Back then, the referees’ whistles froze in the mouth in the 30 below zero temperatures.
As a kid, you’re kind of impervious to outdoor temperatures; you just dealt with what God has presented that day. If it is hot, you just put on shorts. Cold? Put on a coat and some gloves.
But as you grow older, feelings and emotions also become part of the weather equation. I remember vividly in 1986 when I was still in college. It was the opening game for the Georgia Bulldogs in mid-September, and the cooler weather had snuck in overnight.
It was a subtle change, nothing drastic, just similar to the temperatures we experienced in the mornings this past week.
The Dawgs opened with Duke at Sanford Stadium in their opener that year. It was a historic moment when Georgia opened the game with their quarterback, James Jackson from Camilla, Georgia, in the shotgun formation.
In today’s game, almost everyone runs their offense from the shotgun, even our local high school teams. Back then, it was a culture shock to see a Vince Dooley-led team play that way.
Georgia only ran two plays from the shotgun that day, a 9-yard pass and a running play, and the experiment was over for the time. But to this day, I still commingle the two memories of the cool temperatures and Georgia’s offense into one.
As an adult, I wait for it now. I watch the weather closely to see when the first chill snap will make an appearance. And when it gets here, it is like the actual opening day for fall.
I am headed out to cover East Coweta playing one of the top teams in the state, the Collins Hill Eagles. The game will be an excellent opportunity for the 5-0 Indians to play the best and see where they stand before the region schedule starts.
But when I get there, I will open my Jeep door and feel that coolness of the air and the sensations of the setting sun, and I will smile.
It is football weather in Georgia; there is nothing better.
Rob Grubbs is sports editor for The Newnan Times-Herald and still believes that Tyler Simmons was onsides. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .