Thursday, August 18, 2011

Local high school varsity football season kicks off tomorrow night

For all intents and purposes, our local high school football season will officially begin tomorrow (Friday) night when Sparta Academy plays Escambia Academy and Hillcrest High School travels to Jackson High School.

Sparta’s game will serve as its regular season opener and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Hillcrest and Jackson are meeting for a preseason game that will serve as a warm up for their regular season openers next Friday night.

This is an exciting time for our local players and coaches. They’ve been working hard since the end of spring football practice and will finally get the chance to square off against an opponent from another school.

The prospects for the entire season lie ahead of them and they set off on their effort to keep unbeaten records. I look for both of our local teams to be better than they were last year, but only time will tell.

Whatever happens, I hope that our local players have a safe, injury-free season and put forth 100 percent effort from start to finish.

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Those of you in the audience who enjoy a good sports-related book will be interested to hear that the winners of two major, national sports writing awards were announced last week.

As part of the 2011 PEN Awards, it was announced that the winner of the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing was “Play Their Hearts Out” by George Dohrmann. This award is given each year to a “nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2010.” This year’s slate of judges for that award were Madeleine Blais, Buzz Bissinger and Phillip Lopate. The winner receives $5,000.

This year’s PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing went to Roger Angell. This award is given each year to “a writer whose body of work represents exceptional contribution to the field.” The winner receives $5,000 and the judges were Roy Blount Jr., Terry McDonell and David Remnick.

Many of you will be familiar with Angell, who will turn 91 next month. Known mostly for his essays, stories and books about baseball, Angell’s books include “The Summer Game” (1972), “Five Seasons” (1977), “Late Innings” (1982), “Season Ticket” (1988), “Once More Around the Park” (1991), “A Pitcher’s Story” (2001), “Game Time” (2003) and “Let Me Finish” (2006).

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For those of you still interested in joining our local group in ESPN’s College Football Pick ‘Em Contest, you’ve still got time to sign up at

To participate, all you have to do is sign up for the contest and join our local group. The group name is “Conecuh-Monroe FB Pickers,” and the password to join is “football.”

As of Monday, 17 local sports fans had signed up to compete against one another during the upcoming football season.

More than a few of us locally have participated in this contest for nearly a decade now, and it always seems to add a lot to the football season. Maybe the best thing about it is that the game is free and easy to play.

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