Top This; Top 10 Things to do in Illinois High School Football (for fans)
Do you ever find that the nine regular season games go by far to quickly? And the next five payoff games just aren't enough. And God forbid, you're actually thinking about moving to Texas or Florida, just so you can get a season that stretches until Christmas.
I'm not a huge fan of Texas either, but I have come up with a few ideas over the years to make the season a little more memorable. Sorry, only the IHSA can make it longer.
(Feel free to chime in on IHSFW.com message board to add to the top 10)
10. See a game at unique venue.
Riverview Stadium at Mt. Carmel is also a rather unique venue. Lovingly referred to as the "Snake Pit", Riverview has it only set of stands built on the side of a hill.
9. Support your team
Do you ever hear those announcements for 50/50 drawings, or bake sales? Well the school or booster clubs hold them for a reason. Football cost money. There are close to 1,000 high schools in Illinois. Out of that there's just over 550 that have football teams. Each year schools quit their programs or combine with other district schools, like Joliet (Township) which is a combination between Joliet West & Joliet Central and leave more schools with out a team to root for.
Other schools like Springfield (Scared Heart-Griffin) rely a lot on their booster clubs (SHG Boosters) to bring in extra funds for equipment. Mother & Fathers Clubs also help out by working the concession stands or the chains during the games. Helping save the school from more expenses.
If you do anything at all though, buy a T-shirt. You get something and you support the program at the same time.
This may not always be possible, some schools are on public property and must abide by local laws. Some schools though already have a tailgating tradition. All Irish drinking jokes aside, Kankakee (McNamara) is know for having trucks and bar-b-que grills just far enough away from the north endzone, so as not to have a wide receiver flambe. These aren't the drunken fests that you see all to often at NFL tailgates. These are mostly made up of players parents & family, with your usual scattering of alum. These can be a great pre-game festivity, so don't be afraid to socialize with the other team's fans. Unless it's a bitter rivalry.
7. Volunteer for the team
OK, so this isn't for everyone, but if you know enough about football, conditioning or other sports related skills. You could be on your way to being a line coach or a wide receiver coach. Not all school are in a big budget district. Coaches of small schools & cash strapped schools are usually up for a free assistant. As long as you remember who's team it is.
Even if your days are filled because of your 9-5, your help can still be used as a scout. Please talk to your teams coach before you just walk on to the practice field and start showing linemen the swim move.
6. Go to an All-star game
Each summer there is at least two all-star games IHSFW.com is familiar with. The Chicago Public League All-star game at Gatley Stadium, around the first week of July. And the East vs. West game which is played in Peoria around the same time.
5. Go to all 6, I mean 8 Finals games
Now that the IHSA has installed it's 8 class system for football, the one immediate good thing about it is you can watch 8 games in 2 days.
The only other way you use to be able to see that many games in a weekend would be if you caught a Chicago Public league Thursday & Friday day & night games, along with the Friday & Saturday Day & night games you'd normally go to, plus a Catholic Metro game on Sunday afternoon. Check with the IHSA for the 8 game ticket plan, coming this fall.
4. Shake the ref's hand
Yes, it's a job and they get paid for it, but it's no career. Thee guys work other jobs just like you and I.
And chances are these guys get more flack in one game than coaches do all season. Next time you get a chance give him a hand shake and tell him he called a good game.
3. Judge next year's talent
Get to the game early and watch the sophomores run around. Most teams have their sophomores play before their varsity game. If you really want to go to the extreme, check out the freshmen team as well.
2. Check out a big rivalry
Aurora (East Aurora)&Aurora (West Aurora)have the oldest rivalry in the state of Illinois, as well as one of the longest in the country at 109 years. It started in 1892. The rivalry continues Aug. 24th. Other big rivalries are Harrisburg vs. Mt. Carmel also Aug. 24th,Joliet (Catholic)vs.Chicago (Mt. Carmel)Sept. 1st. There are a slew of other rivalry games that are played this year, but these three will most likely continue regardless of how either team is doing.
1. Sit on your opponents side
The first time this was suggested to me I thought it was nuts, but seeing the game from the other side of the field has some benefits.
Sometime it's fun to do it on a very rowdy team, but in general it just creates a unique experience that most of us might never have.
If your really malicious, you should find a game you team is destine to win and watch the disappointment in the fans faces. Other words any game will do.
And one last piece of advise. Don't wear your teams colors!
Other things to do
Paint your face or body
Decorate your car
Keeps stats of the game for yourself
Sing, the National Anthem