page contents Google

High School Football Explained For Better Understanding


high school football

Image via Dan Brood, Pamplin Media


It doesn’t take a genius to understand the risk of playing high school football. But if you need a genius to explain football from top to bottom, ask retired Baltimore Raven John Urschel.


He’s enough of a genius.


At the old age of twenty six he hung his jock on an NFL hook for the last time. Four years of NFL play after college and high school football was enough for him.


Why did it take so long for a smart guy to wise up to the risk? Even if you topped out at high school football you know the answer.



It starts with either getting knocked down, or knocking others down. It’s the contact, the impact, the thrill of dropping another human being to the ground with football technique and feeling good about it.


Where else in sports can you find a combination of speed and power, flexibility and strength, violence and precision? Urschel says he is addicted to the game for all the right reasons, but only one made him turn away: Brain damage.




Which isn’t to say everyone who plays football gets it, but they might.


None of that was on display at a recent high school football game in Tigard, Oregon between the Tigers and the Lake Oswego Lakers. The Friday night game put a spotlight on the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.


I went to the game with my wife and our exchange student from Japan. We stood in one end zone to be close to the action. A parade of Lake Oswego students passed by. I told our student they were the best kids from the best school in the state.


My wife took offense, like I hoped she would. To even out the field she led us to the front of the grandstands full of cheering Tigers with cheerleaders between us and the field. They stayed while I kept walking down the line.


Where else can you find a group of people focused on an outdoor event and screaming their guts out? High school football is that place. And it’s enough, win or lose.


But this was a close game between ranked opponents with Lake Oswego ranked higher than Tigard. It’s the same team that put Tigard out of the playoffs my kid’s senior year when he was a varsity starter.


Explaining rivalries to an exchange student is as simple as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ The home team is good, every other team bad, until the end of the game when sportsmanship rules.


With nineteen seconds left in the game, and trailing, it looked like the mighty Lakers would hang another ‘L’ on Tigard. Then it happened, the come from behind score for the win.


The crowd went wild, as in riot wild, when they charged the field. We were stuck on the walkway while the student section piled out of the stands and funneled down a narrow stairway in the railing.


Their enthusiasm was contagious. They hit the field off the last step and kicked into full speed for the center of the field. How fast did they run? Football fast, pursuit fast, ‘you’re not getting away from me’ fast.


It was a scene of madness joined by the football team after their post game huddle. The swarming joy in the middle of a football field attracts players and fans of all ages. You want to be a part of it, I want to be a part of it, and Kazuma Yao got to be part of it.


Playing is one thing, winning another. It’s intoxicating when it all comes together in a victory celebration. The air is cleaner, the water fresher, and the walk out of the stadium feels like a walk on air. For that moment the world is perfect.


It takes a man like John Urschel to remind the rest of us when enough is enough. You don’t need to be a genius to understand him.
About David Gillaspie
%d bloggers like this: