All good things must come to an end: Thanksgiving dinner, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathons and, yes, even high school football season.
For myself, my long journey through 2 1/2 years of covering Albany sports comes to an end today as I move on to a new job in my hometown of Cincinnati in the wild new frontier of sports journalism on the Internet. But, thanks to Sylvester Croom, I go forth manned with the knowledge the Internet is only a series of tubes.
But, this is not about me. Even though my shiny head, with a little less hair on it than when I started here, adorns the page above this sentence. (It's OK, bald is the new hair. I read about it in Redbook)
This is about a football season that saw some of the area's finest young student-athletes sacrifice time and sometimes health to fight for the concept of the team. Perhaps that's what I enjoy most about sports. Sure, touchdown passes and the always exciting fake punt make Friday nights fun, but it all falls a distant second to the postgame huddle where a collection of players gathers and celebrates together. Kids who would likely not be friends or even converse with each other if it wasn't for football, join hands and fight for a common goal.
There is something honorable in that to me. Even if others see it as being just a game.
That's why tonight will be so special. Players begin in the dead heat of Southwest Georgia summer, they lift weights and run themselves until they hallucinate to see George Lopez's face in their lower thigh. If you are associated with Terrell Academy or Deerfield-Windsor, you do it all with the mind of playing in this game, on this day.
No matter how minuscule in the long run, it is a day nobody wearing the uniform will ever forget. The players will go on to be students and engineers, writers and actors, husbands and fathers. But tonight, they will be football players in search of their game's most coveted prize.
Yes, all good things must come to an end. But these memories will last a lifetime. I am sure glad to have mine, Albany -- even a few of them from Charlie B's. Thanks.
Now, on to the final predictions:
GEORGE WALTON (10-3) AT DEERFIELD-WINDSOR (12-2): Hard to believe how dominant the Knights have been during their 10-game win streak. No team has played within single digits of them and if anybody thought Pinecrest would be able to pull the upset it was dispelled in the amount of time it took Tony Zenon to sprint 70 yards on his first carry (about 7.8 seconds). It feels like George Walton will be different. Something should be said for going to Stratford and also to Tattnall Square and coming away with narrow victories. The Bulldogs know how to win. If this game is close, it will force Deerfield to make plays with the game on the line. That's a situation it hasn't been in all season. No matter the situation, it sure would be hard to pick against the Knights with the way they are playing now. So, I won't.
PREDICTION: Deerfield-Windsor 28, George Walton 24.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (10-2) AT TERRELL ACADEMY (10-2): This is developing into one of the top rivalries in GISA football. For the fourth consecutive postseason, these two teams will meet. TJ knocked Terrell out in the semifinals two consecutive years before Terrell struck back in the state title game last year. Don't think TJ has forgotten Terrell lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 61 points in Louisville last year. It would love to return the favor. They arrive in Dawson with the ability to do so. A trio of running backs and ground game that pushes most teams around will be a daunting challenge for Terrell to overcome. I picked against the Eagles last week and they made me look bad with a dominating win over a good Briarwood team. For their sake, I hope history repeats itself.
PREDICTION: Thomas Jefferson 36, Terrell Academy 31.