I've been covering high school football for 41 years, and I've met some, shall we say, interesting people.

Luckily, none of them are here. The coaches I've met here seem to be pretty decent folks. I have met a lot of decent ones since 1980, but I've met a few “characters.” One of the most unusual ones came in the second game I covered as a reporter. I was working as a stringer for a local daily newspaper while I was going to Auburn University. I was assigned possibly the worst game ever. It was a game between two private schools that went a combined 0-19-1 the previous year. Both were 0-1 in the new season.

A friend and fellow journalism student was going to cover it for the local weekly. We drove together, and we helped each other taking down the play by play. He was on the university's cross country team, so he had trouble understanding things like plays, formations and other football terms.

Well, the game went just like I thought. But with less than a minute to play, the team that went 0-10 scored to tie the game at 12-12. All that was needed was an extra point for the first win in two seasons.

Clang. It hit the crossbar. The game ended in a tie.

The 0-9-1 coach was gracious. He was a local feed-and-seed store owner who coached the team as a favor. The other coach wasn't that way. I actually had played against him 10 years earlier. He was crazy as a loon.

He was mad at his kicker.

“Joe Smith (not his real name) is a @#$@#ing %$#@^%,” he said when asked about the game. We both asked different questions and we kept getting “Joe Smith is a @#$@#ing %$#@^%,”

Six or seven times.

We got in my car to drive the 30 miles back to Auburn. In that time, we decided it would not be good to call Joe Smith a @#$@#ing %$#@^%. In fact, we decided to paraphrase his quote to simply “Our kicker let us down.”

Oh, yeah, the crazy coach was deeply religious. He was always happy to tell you that.

Later that year, I was covering a game between two very small schools. Both schools had about 100 students in their top four grades. One happened to be a pretty good running back.

In the game, he gained more than 250 yards. I interviewed the coach afterward, and it was a lot like the private school coach, only this time, it was praise.

“That x^%$#*(&^% can run!” repeated the coach, whose name, I swear, was Tom Jones. And it was paraphrased to “He sure can run!”

Jones was a hilarious guy, actually, unlike the psycho private school coach. I drove out to his school prior to the 1982 season. The school had been given a pasture to turn into a football stadium. He was in a former barn that was now his office.

He was getting ready for the first day of practice. A kid who was helping him was going out the door when Jones stopped him. He handed him a yardstick.

“I want you to measure off a 40-yard field so we can get some times in the 40,” he said. “Now, remember, that stick is 3 yards long.”

And he was serious.

From that time on, I wasn’t sure how accurate their post-game stats were that were called into the newspaper.

Brian Love is a freelance writer in Cleveland.

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