After my sons first season of tackle football ended Thanksgiving weekend, I thought it would be a great experience for him to watch a high school football playoff game. Tonight, we went to the state 5A Division 1 semi-final game between the Hamilton Huskies and the Chandler Wolves. Boy was I surprised! First of all, we got there just before the game started, because we had to park almost a mile away in a strip mall. When we finally got to the field, there was absolutely no seating available on either side, Hamilton or Chandler. There must have been over 6,000 people in attendance. So, my son and I had to stand along the fence near the south endzone the entire game. The one good thing is that it only cost $5 to get into the game, so the price hasn't gone up much since I won a state championship back in 1981.
Once the game started, boy did the game look different than when I played. For one thing, the players are twice as big as what we were. Our offensive line barely averaged over 200 pounds and we were one of the biggest offensive lines in the whole state of Oregon at the time. Now, almost every offensive lineman weighed at least 250, and I am sure there were a couple that were at, or over 300 pounds. The players on offense and defense both looked like they were faster than anyone on my high school team. Back in the day, you were super fast if you could run a 4.6 40 yard dash in high school. Tonight, the linemen on both teams were probably running faster than that, and much quicker too. Then there were the running backs. Our running backs were short and stalky, but when I say that, they were like 5' 7", and all of 160 to 170 pounds. Tonight, the running backs didn't look much taller, maybe 5' 8" to 5' 10", but they all looked like they weighed close to 200 pounds. Again, they were darting in and out so fast, they looked like Barry Sanders.
Two more things that were a lot different than when I played. First, there were a lot of passing plays. When I played high school football, none of the teams passed the ball very often. It would be very uncommon to attempt more than 10 passes in a game, and the completion ratio back then was typically less than 50%. I don't think any quarterback ever passed for over 1,000 yards in a season. The playoff game tonight probably had 10 passes by Chandler in the first quarter. Also, our games always lasted 2 hours no matter what. Tonight's game lasted right at 3 hours, for a game with four 12 minute quarters.
The game was a good one through the first half, as it ended with Hamilton leading 14 - 7. Chandler scored on the last play of the half on a 50 plus yard pass. The second half ended up being a blowout, as Hamilton scored on their first three possessions, afterwards, the score being 35 - 14. The game ended with Hamilton winning 49 - 21. It sure was amazing to watch those athletes play, and to think they were only 15 to 18 year olds.
Next weeks state championship game will be held in the University of Phoenix stadium, where the Arizona Cardinals play.