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Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
F is for….

I am a summertime kind of guy. 

Give me a swimming hole, a boat or a beach, and with apologies to Walker Hayes, a Styrofoam full of Busch Latte’s squeakin’ and I’m one jolly fat man. With all of that being said however, there is just something about a fall breeze blowing under a slate grey November sky at a high school football playoff game that reaches in and touches my soul. I am always amazed at the terrific performances I see from kids, 99 percent of whom will never suit up again once their high school careers end, year in and year out. 

Back in the seventies, there were only 5 playoff divisions of 16 teams, so only 80 schools had the honor of making the playoffs each year. In 1980, that number expanded to 96, but nowhere near the 256 teams who get to play in the postseason these days. It resulted in some really good football teams being left out, including VGHS, when I was attending. My sophomore through senior seasons saw us go 6-3, 6-3 and 7-2 and never make the postseason. It wasn’t until 1985, when the playoffs expanded to their current 32 teams per class that the Blue Devils’ strong run of playoff appearances began. All of this is to say that my memories of playoff football are entirely those of a fan. I never got to play a Saturday game, other than Freshman or JV games, and that’s an experience that I hope all those who experience it remember fondly. The Boys of Fall, indeed.

Of course, the other thing that makes the time change and its intendent darkness while driving to and from work a little more tolerable is deer camp, and once November rolls around, that’s pretty much my obsession. As I’ve said before, to me, the actual harvesting of such a majestic creature is always secondary to the experiences I have hanging out at the central meeting place, around family and friends, some of whom I’ve been hunting with for 40 years now. The stories get better with every year’s re-telling and each year brings me a little closer to the time when our deer camp patriarch will decide to set down his trusty firing tool for good. That makes me a bit sad, to be true, but also more determined to enjoy every moment of the camaraderie and laughter that I can. It’s my sincere hope that you too are able to wring every bit out of what you’re passionate about. Live out loud, friends, because there aren’t too many do-overs. Have a great week.

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