It is about time to put my training to the test

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017

We are now in the early days of August and some familiar sounds are beginning to come from high school and college campuses.

Like a bear that has been in hibernation for the winter, football season is beginning to make its presence known with the start of preseason training programs to get athletes in shape, teach some new positions and give coaches time to install their new offensive and defensive schemes that are “guaranteed” to win that division, conference or national championship.

For people like me who follow the college game, this is the time of year to get the special clothes, buy the magazines, start pulling up the blogs and websites and educate ourselves with the teams, the players and the standings as we prepare for the start of the season at the end of the month.

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing my own training to get ready. I’ve been watching the Canadian Football League on ESPN and through streaming on my Watch ESPN app, and I’ve been reliving moments from LSU games past, going back to the Charlie McClendon years when I was a student at LSU.

I’ve also been remembering high school and college games that have stuck in my mind over the years. There is the 1970 win over Notre Dame in Tiger Stadium, the 61-17 win over Ole Miss during Archie Manning’s last year at Oxford, and the 3-3 tie against Nebraska in 1975 in a period before overtime was installed. There was the Independence Bowl game between Texas A&M and Mississippi State played in the snow in Shreveport. State wore all white, and was “hidden” by the snow on the field.

And there is one high school game that will always stick in my mind for as long as I live.

It was in 1965. I was a student and a member of the band at Catholic High School at the time, and we played Broadmoor High, another Baton Rouge school. What makes the game memorable was the conditions. Hurricane Betsy was slowly making her way to New Orleans, and later to Baton Rouge, was just off the coast at kickoff, and things got progressively worse as the game went on.

I can still remember the rain and the strong winds, and watching those tall steel stadium light poles sway back and forth in the wind. By halftime, our band director sent us all home. The game continued, and if I remember the score, I’ll be happy in my old age. But I’ll never forget the experience.

In a few weeks, I’ll turn on the tube, sit back in a chair (or stand, if LSU’s playing) and begin enjoying another college football season. With luck, there won’t be any hurricanes, terrorist attacks or other disruptions, and the season will be uneventful with the exception of some major upsets.

There will be no disasters except upsets, and all will be right with the world. And I’ll have more memories.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.