In last week’s article I wrote a few hundred words on an encounter I had with the late Nick Soley, a World War II veteran. Since it published, I have received a lot of positive feedback from people in the community. So much so that I actually began worrying about what the heck I was going to follow it up with this week. I want to thank everyone that read last week’s intro and felt the need to give me positive feedback on it, your words are truly appreciated.
Earlier this week I was driving home and right before I turned into my neighborhood and “Good Times Roll” came on the radio. Half of the people reading (or scrolling through) this were probably born in 1999 or 2000, so I need to specify to them that this song was released in 1978 by The Cars.
This song has a special meaning to me and I was steamrolled by nostalgia as it came pouring through my speakers that night. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to write about this week.
I attended Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Illinois for the the first three years of my high school career before my family moved back home to Syracuse. My freshman year at MCHS we got a new coach, Tom Pagliaro.
Pags took over a program with a very rich tradition but was struggling at the time. Marquette had started football in 1927 and had always been a very competitive program. But the last playoff appearance before Pags’ arrival was in 2002, when the No. 1 ranked Explorers were upset in the second round after having the majority of its varsity roster suspended for partying after the first round win. The next two seasons Marquette posted a 1-17 record.
Continuing our new tradition of losing, we carried an 0-7 record into our game against Roxana. The Shells (Yes, Shells, named after the Shell oil refinery in their town. I’m serious.) Roxana was the program’s last win, two years prior. We ended stomping our rivals to the south 49-0. After the game our students rushed the field…you know, the opponents field. Yes, we were that school.
Pags made sure to get all of the players to the locker room quickly. It was our first win and you could immediately tell the difference in tone after this game compared to all the others. Instead of letting the freshman players (myself and about eight other guys) head to the bus and load up equipment (yeah, the frosh players were basically managers), Pags made sure we were in the locker room as well.
He sat everyone down and pulled out a boom box. He told us after every win he had in high school his coach would play this song and he wanted to pass that tradition along. He held up a CD, looked at the team and simply said, “Boys, let the good times roll.” The Cars came on and a new tradition was born.
We blasted it again the following week after a win over Staunton and nine times the next season on our way to the playoffs. Pags took another job after that, but we kept the song playing on our way to the playoffs my junior year as well. That song has never left my memory since those days. I still think about it a lot and the great memories I had.
High school football was not always great, there were definitely bad memories and bad days. But most of the time it was great. The only regrets I hold from my four years on the gridiron with Marquette and Wawasee are when I let my emotions over some little issue get the best of me. High school football is sacred in my mind. You only get four years. There’s no redshirt, no contract extension. Four years and you’re out. So every moment counts, big and little.
As most of our local teams start conference play this week, that’s what I want you to take with you on the field tonight and every night from here on out. Your time is limited, make the most of it. If you’re committed to yourself and to your team, I promise you, you won’t walk away with any regrets.
For those of you that didn’t scroll, thanks for reading it all!
For those of you that are suiting up tonight, let the good times roll.
Last Week: 4-1
High School Football Week Three 9/2:
Warsaw (1-1) at Plymouth (1-1), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: I have to be honest with you all, I’m letting peer pressure get the best of me on this one.
I was fully prepared to pick Plymouth in this one but the Warsaw student section has swayed me with their overwhelming confidence. The group’s Twitter account has been getting Tiger Nation hyped all week for this rivalry. To the point where they were asking me for my pick yesterday. If the team is anywhere near as ready for this game as the students are then this will be a very entertaining game.
Warsaw has shown it can score points, Plymouth has shown that it can stop teams from scoring. This Plymouth squad is not as talented as it has been in the past, but it’s still Plymouth, the
Pilgrims Rockies hardly ever have down years. This will be a tough game, but it’s a rivalry so you shouldn’t expect anything but a dogfight.
Can I really trust the Tigers to go into the Rock Pile and pull out a win? Does a bear…never mind.
Nick’s Pick: Warsaw 27, Plymouth 22.
Northridge (0-2) at Wawasee (2-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: Don’t let the 0-2 record fool you, this Raiders squad is better than that. But Wawasee is every bit as good as its record might imply. While the strength of schedule battle would certainly be tipped in favor of the visitors tonight, Northridge simply has not had a good showing in either of its contests. (46-29 loss to Adams and 37-0 loss to Michigan City). What impresses me the most about Wawasee this season is its defensive prowess. That unit took the biggest hit with graduations last season but has returned as the backbone of this team so far in 2016. If their players learned how to actually catch an interception, they’d have at least three defensive scores in two games. I’m actually not exaggerating. This will be a great measuring stick and will set the tone for conference play for both teams. Wawasee has not had to leave the comfort of home yet, I think that’s only a benefit as it gets to defend its home turf again. I like strong start to carry the Warriors in this game.
Nick’s Pick: Wawasee 23, Northridge 14.
Concord (2-0) at NorthWood (2-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: Is it possible to just award the NLC trophy in week three?
I’m kidding, sort of.
The Panthers have fired out of the gates this season and will look to continue that hot start as they host defending conference champ Concord. I’m picking this game because it’s my belief that this truly is the conference title match. I know I just royally ticked off coaching staffs at Goshen, Plymouth, Warsaw and Wawasee, but that’s the benefit of being protected behind my keyboard (looks over shoulder to check for angry coaches). In two games so far both teams have exercised great offense and stout defense. NorthWood is outscoring opponents, on average, 50-18 while Concord is doing just as well with a 49-12 spread. This is the game to be at in our area tonight (unless you want to see how many point Cathedral will put up on Mishawaka). Given that this is the showdown of the week for the NLC, I wanted to throw my two cents in. If Trey Bilinski can avoid any early mistakes, then the Panthers will pull the upset tonight. Take it to the bank! Don’t…don’t actually do that. The banks don’t accept my picks as currency anymore.
Nick’s Pick: NorthWood 17, Concord 13.
Whitko (2-0) at Maconaquah (0-2), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: The Wildcats finally topped their county rivals last week in a defeat of Columbia City. Congrats to Jeff Sprunger and company for picking up the dub. I’m not going to waste time here, Maconaquah is struggling big time this season and the Wildcats should be able to come away with the win. Whitko has a reliable offensive attack and the Braves are currently giving up 56 points a week. Yeah, I like the chances of Garrett Elder having a big week here.
Nick’s Pick: Whitko 50, Maconaquah 13.
North Miami (2-0) at Tippecanoe Valley (0-2), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: It’s homecoming in Akron! An early homecoming will hopefully lead to an early win for the Vikings, but it will definitely be an uphill battle. The Warriors have played two struggling opponents (Central Noble, Maconaquah) but have been able to get the wins in decisive fashion. Valley, meanwhile, has struggled to score in both of its contests. The Vikings did beat the Warriors in last year’s game, so there should be a level of confidence going into tonight’s contest. I like the aspect of it being homecoming, that adds to the momentum for Valley. The wins will be few and far between this year in Akron, so you have to take advantage of the opportunities when they come. I think this is an opportunity for the Vikings.
Nick’s Pick: Valley 33, North Miami 28.
Pioneer (2-0) at Triton (0-2), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: Some weeks just aren’t fair. Pioneer comes to Bourbon with a No. 3 ranking in class 1-A and an offense averaging 44 points per game. The Panthers defense gives up less than seven. This is not a great matchup for the Trojans. There’s no beating around the bush, Triton is overmatched in this one. The key is to get on Pioneer early and get them off their game. Kind of like what Appalachian State did at No. 9 Tennessee last night….almost.
Never say never.
Nick’s Pick: Pioneer 56, Triton 12.
College Football 9/3-9/4
Eastern Kentucky at Purdue, noon.
The Scoop: I’m really wanting to avoid spending much time on college picks this season, there is more than enough info out there to find on what these teams bring to the table. Look, Purdue should beat this team. But I have no faith that they will. The Boilermakers have a max potential of four wins this year, and that’s being generous. That max number shrinks to zero if they lose this weekend. EKU has a decent tradition and is not your typical FCS rollover team. Don’t be surprised by a good showing. There is no official betting line on this game, but I did see one site predict a 15-12 victory for the Boilers. That’s so terrible, I have no words.
Nick’s Pick: Purdue 34, EKU 17.
Ball State at Georgia State, 7 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.
The Scoop: Ball State’s new head coach, Mike Neu, makes his debut. Georgia State just started it program a few seasons ago but has already made big strides. That has been in part because of good recruiting and coaching by Trent Miles. Miles was a standout receiver for Indiana State in the 1980s and even returned to coach the lackluster program to a playoff appearance in 2014. Miles is the guy Ball State needed to hire, in my opinion. Maybe he didn’t want to come, I have no idea. Either way, I like the Panthers here. Neu is taking over a team that had a lot of issues last season and GSU returns most of its roster from a team that went to a bowl last year. The line has Georgia State by 3.5. That’s generous.
Nick’s Pick: Georgia State 38, Ball State 24.
No. 10 Notre Dame at Texas, 7:30 p.m. Sunday 9/4
The Scoop: Notre Dame enters the season with a lot of positives following a run to a BCS bowl last year. The Irish thumped the Longhorns 38-3 in South Bend on opening weekend last season. I hardly expect a repeat performance but I do expect a win for the Irish. For the sake of the viewers, I hope it’s a better game.
Notre Dame is getting 3.5 on the road, I’ll take it.
Nick’s Pick: Notre Dame 31, Texas 21.