Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 15, 2013

THE SKINNY: Gridiron season so far full of intrigue

By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — It’s been an interesting first four weeks in Michiana high school football.

Every season, there are storylines that develop, tragedy and tribulation, hope and heartbreak — and through it all, football players — just like athletes in other sports — learn life lessons that will endure long after the uniforms come off for the last time.

For the Fairfield Falcons, tragedy struck a few weeks ago as a former football player apparently committed suicide on Thursday night — less than 24 hours before the Falcons were supposed to host Prairie Heights in an NECC game.

I remember well the shock of losing not only a classmate, but a fellow player.

I’ve written in this space before about the 1981 loss of my friend and teammate Carlos Perez, who collapsed and died of a heart attack on the practice field during a brutal series of pre-conditioning drills in 90-plus degree weather.

And as I covered the game that night, my heart was heavy as well, as I watched the players go through their warmups and my thoughts traveled back in time more than 28 years to my own experience.

When something like this happens before a game, especially in the zone where players are already getting themselves psyched up for game day, the first decision is whether or not to play the game. The Fairfield players wanted to play, because it’s what their friend would have wanted.

And once the game begins, it goes one of two ways: A team is either inspired to stellar heights by the desire to honor their friend, or the inspiration is there, but the execution just quite isn’t.

The latter outcome was what happened to the Falcons, as they ended up falling to the panthers on their home field for their first loss of the season.

But, you know what? Hats off to the Falcons for putting on the gear and getting after it.

Elsewhere across the area, Goshen is struggling to find an identity and victories as the season reaches the halfway point.

I have been in that situation too, and it is a difficult one, to be sure.

But the Redskins, also, are learning a valuable life lesson: The power of not giving up.

All throughout life, there will be days when things don’t go your way, and you feel like giving up.

But you go back out there every day, lace ‘em up, and go to work.

And at the end of the day, if things don’t turn out your way, you come back again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. 

Concord, meanwhile, is rolling along, the class of the NLC at 4-0 (3-0 in the conference).

The Minutemen look to be primed for another deep playoff run, even with a move up to the 5A ranks this year.

It should be an interesting final five weweks of the 2013 regular season.

See you at the field!

Contact sports editor David Vantress at 533-2151, ext. 325 or by email at david.vantress@goshennews.com.