Like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I had trouble sleeping last night, and I managed to parlay that into actually getting up on time for once this morning (although I still managed to be a few minutes late for work). Today everything seems new, and in fact some things are new: I got an oil change and new wiper blades on my car yesterday; I started using a new toothbrush this morning; I made a new CD to play in my car. Small things, but each adds a bit to the feeling of rebirth I feel at approximately this time each year.
The Troy Trojans kick off tonight against Dublin Coffman at Troy Memorial Stadium. The game starts at 7:30. Back in the days when I still lived in Troy, I would have left for the game at 6:00 and been in the stands by 6:15. Now I work until 5:00 in Toledo, and Troy is 130 miles away; I won't be there until 7:00.
Believe it or not, I wasn't into football at all when I was young. I started going to the Troy games when I was in high school there just because it was something to do. Football has always been pretty big in Troy, so it was fun to go to the games even if I wasn't all that interested in the game itself. Still, we generally had good teams that played exciting games, and that drew me in and planted the seed that is still growing to this day.
However, by the time I graduated from high school, I still wasn't the huge football fan I am now. I started my college career at Wright State University in Dayton, so I was still pretty close to home--close enough, in fact, that when most of my new friends got together on Friday nights to do typical college things, I continued going to Troy's football games. That year the Trojans, who generally play a run-heavy offense, started a freshman tailback and a sophomore fullback in the varsity backfield.
While that doesn't sound like the basis for a promising season, that year's Trojans were awesome to watch. They finished the year at 9-2 with a regular season loss to conference foe Greenville (by 2 points) and a season-ending playoff loss to Toledo St. Francis. Ryan Brewer (the freshman tailback) and Matt Dallman (the sophomore fullback) went on to become two of the most prolific backs in school history, and that's saying something. They were conference co-champs that year, and won it outright the following three years. Brewer won Ohio's Mr. Football award his senior year, and went on to play at the University of South Carolina.
If my love of football can be attributed to any one thing or person in particular, it would be Ryan Brewer. He was absolutely dominant in high school, and so much fun to watch. I've never seen a better high school player, and I've seen a lot. He rarely came off the field--he played offense, defense, special teams--and you were unwise to take your eyes off him while he was playing, because you never knew what he would do next.
So that's where my interest in football began. High school is still my first love, although I've developed quite an affinity for both college (as my missives on the BGSU Falcons have shown) and the NFL as well.
Since Brewer graduated (this will be the sixth season without him), things haven't been quite as good. There has been only one winning season and trip to the playoffs. Still, Troy has a strong football tradition, and each year begins with the hope that we will return to form. Is this our year? The answer to that question starts this evening, and I can't wait to find out.