By Dency McClure
The Eden field was lush and green with a perfect big blue E on the 40. It has been so dry and hot in this area I can only begin to imagine the work and water investment made to get and keep it so nice. Principal Odom told me the beautiful field was all because of Coach Shay and his crew.
Eden had their bleachers well marked with big blue x’s. They showed the rows on which not to sit. It was unusual seeing people spread apart and so many watching from the other side of the fence. We are all so happy to get to have football that we take it all in stride.
Walking all around a football field in 100 degree weather, in a mask is a bit daunting. It can be done and I did but wow sometimes you just have to get way off by yourself and take a good breath. You can tell nobody wants to wear them all the time. We all did our best to keep them on and keep the environment safer for everyone. By the end of this season I may not even notice the mask.
What a game Eden and Blackwell had in store for their season opener. It ended with Eden winning by a mere 2 points. Now I know if you are from one of the towns competing it can get stressful and you don’t view it as a great game. But for a non biased observer it was a fantastic game. The suspense and the never knowing just who was going to pull it off and come out with the win was great. I’ve had the honor of watching both these teams and many of their players and coaches over the recent years. You can’t help but get excited about seeing them all again and watching to see how certain kids have improved their talent.
“Camo” Coldiron actually saw me and greeted me before the game. He has been in my viewfinder many times. Hunner Rodgers is easy to spot as he is the tallest on the field and has an arm. Eden is blessed with two great quarterbacks on their team this year because they also have Gamboa. Now Gamboa and Rodgers are quite a pair to watch on a basketball court as well as a football field. I was sad to see Tyson Walls in a cast. I always enjoy watching him on the line and his older brother was a beast as well. So many great kids on both of these teams that I love to watch and photograph in action. Too many to name here.
Once the game got under way I noticed that the player box was huge. As a photographer I work hard to stay out of the way of the coaches, players, trainers, etc. That always means watching the player box lines and only invading them when the team is at the other end or completely out of the way. Well, when I looked closely I realized the player box was literally marked from the 10 yard line to the 10 yard line. I’ve known Odom for a while so I got his attention, as I was standing in the player box, and asked him if they were trying to have the biggest player box in the state. He chuckled and told me that wasn’t the case at all but that that was the new regulation size due to Covid. I was shocked. Lots of things are different but it almost took up the entire sideline. I still worked to distance myself, even more than normal, from the players but I did end up shooting from inside the enormous player box regularly.
Oh the cramps of a week one game in the heat. They were bad for sure. It seems like it is always worse the first week of the season. The Eden trainer asked me how many photos I’d gotten of her stretching the kids. I told her I never take pictures of the kids that are down but only of those kneeling and waiting. I think she was relieved. She laughed and told me that at one point she thought she was going to end up with all of them down cramping. It got so bad that even the Blackwell players were jumping in and stretching the Eden players that were down. The annoncer even thanked them.
The announcer did a great job. Early in the game one of the referees started to walk the ball off in the wrong direction and the crowd started fussing. The announcer came over the speakers loud and clear and told everyone to calm down that it’s the first game and it will be alright. This quickly changed the mood from frustration to laughter. So very true! It was the first game and we all needed the calming voice to let us know it’s ok if we mess up a bit. It is even hard for me to get back in the groove of being where I need to be to get the shots I want according to what is going on on the field.
Towards the end of the game Superintendent Gandy was down on the sidelines. I asked her if she was there to keep the field borders intact. She let me know that indeed she was there to keep the fans from gathering on the field. I know things are different this year and I’ll abide by and live with whatever restrictions we have to so we can keep getting to have our games and some sense of community while attending. No it’s not normal but it is what we have right now and I am thankful for it. I’d rather be wearing a mask and taking photos from a distance than sitting at home and missing out on Six-man football.
See you on the sidelines!
We all have a story... a funny story or a serious story. This space is for those stories that make us laugh or cry or feel motivated.