Tonight marks the beginning to a special time of year for so many people in our communities — the start of football season. Yes, tonight our local high school football teams will kickoff the 2012 season. In a couple weeks most college football teams will take the field followed by NFL teams a few days later.
Our area has been blessed over the decades with much success on the gridiron. Here in Elkhart County our teams boast seven state championships since 1978 along with 19 state finals appearances. Jimtown leads in titles with four (1991, 97, 98, 2005) followed by Goshen with two (1978, 88) and NorthWood with one (2005). Concord was the last Elkhart County team to reach the state finals in 2006.
At the college ranks nearby Notre Dame claims 11 national championships, the most in college football history. The last national title for the Fighting Irish was 1988. And in the NFL, both the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears have enjoyed sustained recent success (throw out last season).
Football is important to many of us and Friday night high school football games are a great community resource for showcasing both our young people and our loyalty. Go to Foreman Field in Goshen or Andrews Field in Nappanee or “The Jake” in Dunlap and the sense of community pride is unmistakable.
There is just something about the autumn chill, the sound of the marching band, the smell of fresh popcorn and the bursts of joyous cheers that somehow warms our souls. The football game may be the centerpiece, but it’s the backdrop that truly brings us together.
We expect this to be a significant year for local football, not because of wins and losses, but because of new safety regulations The Indiana High School Athletic Association has initiated to protect players from the damaging effects of concussions. We support the new rules, which would prohibit players showing signs of a concussion from re-entering a game. That could mean some of our better players are regulated to the sidelines at times. So be it.
There are some great coaches at our schools who understand what is at stake with these new regulations. Football season is a special time of year, but it’s not worth a lifetime medical issues for a teenager who just wants in for the next play.
So, we’d like to wish all of our teams great success this season. But most of all, we hope they all stay safe and injury-free.