As I sit at my desk with still a decent amount of work to do for this year’s Union-Recorder football preview section, I can’t help but feel a bit of relief.
It sounds a little backwards, but Friday’s release of the packed-with-info section marks the switch from preseason mode into regular season mode. We can stop talking about offseason workouts, transitioning from summer into afterschool practices, and how players/teams look. I wish we could leave the heat behind in the preseason too, but the meteorologist in me (and on my phone) tells me that’s not going to be the case.
Any sports writer will tell you that putting out a preseason publication is a massive undertaking, one that most do in addition to their daily duties. It’s tough, but I love the final product. I personally got to know six coaches and programs better than I had before. I enjoyed visiting 10 different team practices and scrimmages, snapping photos, and hear how enthusiastic coaches are for the upcoming season. I’d like to personally thank those coaches and players for taking the time to speak with me. Their schedules are sometimes busier than my own, so I appreciate them for making these necessary interviews a priority.
I would also like to thank Taylor Hembree, Nate Howard, Keith Rouse, Natalie Linder, and everyone else who has had a hand in producing this year’s section. This is the fourth I’ve been a part of. Although I had no idea what I was in for when I came on board, I’ll once again say the experience is very rewarding once the whole thing is out in print.
Once the section hits stands, please take it in, enjoy it, and see if your favorite player’s picture made it inside. It’s the perfect primer for local football.
Now is the time for results. We can stop looking forward to games, and start playing them.
Fans of football in Milledgeville are lucky. The season officially starts TONIGHT in the shadow of the Old Capitol Building on the Georgia Military College campus. Players will run, hit, jump, and throw, and it will count for something. The GMC Bulldogs are set to face the Navarro Bulldogs of Corsicana, Tx. on historic Davenport Field — one of the country’s more unique football settings — to open the 2019 NJCAA season. The matchup features a pair of Top 20 programs, which should be no surprise to followers of junior college football. Both teams narrowly made the cut in the preseason poll coming in at No. 18 (Navarro) and No. 19 (GMC), but I would not be surprised if either or both teams finish much higher than their initial placement. Three out of the last four times the teams met the winner came out on top by a touchdown or less.
I’ve written on this topic before, but it bears repeating — if you love college football and are not attending GMC JUCO games you are not living up to your full football fan potential. I never went to one until I started writing for the paper, but as soon as I did I started having flashbacks to college economics class. I thought about the opportunity cost of having missed out on so much quality football. What on earth was I doing with my Saturdays not spent in Athens? Many of these junior college players are every bit as talented as their DI counterparts, they just didn’t have the grades to qualify or they missed out for some other reason. Netflix’s “Last Chance U” does little to paint an accurate picture for how JUCO programs are run, or maybe that’s just how they do it in Kansas.
Taking a trip down to Davenport isn’t just a good idea for adult fans of the game either. I implore current high school football players to come out and see the level these guys are playing at. It could help the high schoolers make a career decision. They might learn that college football is not right for them, or, better yet, show them the dedication and hard work it takes to reach that next level.
Tonight’s kickoff between GMC and Navarro is set for 6 p.m. I hope to see you there.