Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playoff Musings

Kickoff At Ennis by mdt1960
Kickoff At Ennis, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
This is the time of year when the quaint charm of everything that is small town high school football seems to fade away and is replaced by the pure competitive spirit that has become the playoff season. Given all the wholesome attributes that have drawn me to this particular genre of football (its good sportsmanship, simplicity, and overall Americana-feel for starters), sometimes I think staying home is a viable option once the last week of the regular season is completed. Nevertheless, after attending eight weeks of Class C football in Montana and 1A Six-Man in Wyoming, it’s difficult not to get caught up in everything that points toward the state championships.

And so, there I was driving off to Ennis for their quarterfinal game with Simms. Although it was a playoff game, I had a particular and unique interest in choosing the Ennis venue… I’d never photographed a Simms team in action.

I’ll confess here, deep down inside I wanted Simms to win, but it wasn’t because I knew someone on the team, or I had some kind of strange disliking for Ennis. No, I was only hoping that they would advance so they would host the title game. Why? Because I’ve never photographed a game in Simms and after looking at the town on Google maps, I found myself curious about a town that fit perfectly in a square with its school smack dab in the center (see photo).

Well, perhaps a trip to Simms is in the cards for me next year.

I don’t put much stock into ratings when it comes to high school football, but the Ennis team did catch me off guard. Weren’t they the same team that took a beating by Fairview… twice, last year? My, how things change in the course of a year. Now I know why they were ranked number one from the first week of the season. It wasn’t just some willy-nilly, we-have-to-designate-some-undefeated-team-as-number-one thing.

As much as the Ennis 76-0 win over Simms took me by surprise, I was also astonished by the thrashing Superior suffered at the hands of Wibaux. Forgive me fans of Charlo and Belt, but I’m sensing a huge, well-contested Ennis-Wibaux title game on the near horizon, and surely I’m not the only one who has thought about it. This upcoming week of semi-finals feels way too much like a warm-up game for the Mustangs and Longhorns. That said, nothing keeps me more humble than getting wrong what I was certain I had right.

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