Monday, September 2, 2013


The first game of the season is always a big deal. The crowd fills the stands with high expectations as they await their first real look at this year's squad.

The team is ready too. They've spent a summer sweating and running and lifting. They've spent the last few weeks going at each other in the August heat. They are more than ready to hit someone wearing a different color. They've got the whole season ahead of them. All goals are still obtainable. Dreams are alive.

This year's Ranburne Bulldogs took the field in the season opener against the Mt. Zion Eagles. From the stands, it looked like any game you might see in any small, Alabama town. Nothing earth-shattering happened. Just two teams going head-to-head.

photo credit: Susan Shadinger
Ranburne took the opening kick-off and drove down the field to begin the game. The the Eagles answered with a scoring drive of their own, tying the game at 6-6 in the first. The two teams traded touchdown drives again before the half, sending the Dogs to the locker room up by a PAT, 13-12.

Mt. Zion's offense kept the ball for most of the second half, but they were unable to find the end zone. And, their defense was unable to hold off the Dogs as they punched it in for a 4th quarter TD, giving them a 20-12 lead. MZHS had the ball late in the fourth with a chance to mount a drive. The Dogs D wouldn't let that happen. They forced a turnover on downs, bringing the Ranburne offense back to the field for the victory formation. Final 20-12, Ranburne.

They didn't look great. But, they got the all-important first win. All goals still obtainable; dreams are still alive.

While it looked like your average game from the stands, it was anything but on the field. For the guys in the purple jerseys, there are no average games. They're out there lying it on the line for their teammates, their school, their community while we sit in the stands and laugh and talk and cheer. We see the results of the plays, the scores, the turnovers, the stops. But we don't always fully appreciate the effort these guys give. If we did, we'd cheer a little harder, I think.

I watched those guys Friday night. I watched as young men played offense and defense. There really is something about small town football you won't see in bigger places. Those guys give their all for 4 quarters, with little or no rest. I watched as one player switched back and forth from receiver to corner, constantly running without rest because there was no one who could go in for him. He was tired. He needed a break. But he had to stay in because someone else was hurt. And he stayed in. He never let up. In a society full of quitters, how can you not admire that?

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