Sunday column: An air of fall, already

The leaves haven’t begun to turn yet, school’s still about a month away and my long sleeve shirts won’t be seeing daylight any time real soon.
Yet, for many of us … fall is in the air this week. That is, if you’re a football fan, this week is the start of a wonderful six months that will include training camps, two-a-days, preseason, kickoff classics, jamborees, Friday night lights, Saturday morning tailgating, Sundays in front of the tube, playoffs, title games, and ultimately, the Super Bowl.
I am a huge football fan, and this is putting it lightly. There are pictures of me as a toddler wearing a Dallas Cowboys helmet and Dallas Cowboys pajamas and tucking a Nerf football under my arm. I played Pee-Wee football in Ohio and Georgia and was fortunate to play high school football in Texas, where high school football is king.
And while my job as editor of a newspaper doesn’t require a helmet and pads (on most days), I still have the fortune to include football in my job. What I’m getting at is this — if you’re a fan of our local high school teams, you will enjoy what we have planned as far as coverage goes this fall.
I’m told high school football in North Carolina doesn’t hold a candle to college basketball, and while this is probably true, it doesn’t mean it’s not important to many people in our area. I know of few states where the most entertaining thing going on during a Friday night in a town the size of ours isn’t a high school football game.
The actual “football” aside, Friday nights build communities. Fewer things will bring hundreds of people together for a common cause than a winning football squad. And there are fewer “atmospheres” I enjoy more than Friday nights in a high school stadium. From the smells (nachos, fresh cut grass and fresher fall air) to the sounds (high school bands, cheerleaders, whistles and fans) … there’s really nothing better. There are many non-football fans out there who will agree with me.
But it’s the football fans we’re hoping to please in our paper this year. Expect a bigger and better high school football preview toward the end of August. Expect more advance stories before games. Expect more statistics. Expect more photos and galleries from Friday night games.
And beyond the game, expect more stories on budding rivalries (Lee Senior vs. Southern Lee) and expect more on those who contribute just as much to the experience (our cheerleaders and band members). We hope this eventually helps our coverage of volleyball and winter and spring sports, like basketball, baseball, softball and more.
Sports Editor Alex Podlagar and sports writer Randy Quis, as well as the rest of our news staff, are working hard to enhance our coverage of high school sports. And we’re not saying it was broken to begin with … it’s just part of the “refocus” we’re planning for the entire paper.
As always, your feedback will be appreciated. And we hope you’re as excited about the upcoming season as we are.

Billy Liggett is Editor of The Sanford Herald. Catch his column Sundays in The Herald, and catch him on his couch Sundays in the fall. He can be reached by e-mail at


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