Robledo Column: The past, present, and future of high school football is one long thrill ride

Fred J. Robledo column
The best part of a new high school football season is what we don’t know. Will new coach Greg Gano turn Damien into the power he had at Los Altos at the turn of the century, when Gano and the Conquerors won four CIF-Southern Section titles?

Will Charter Oak continue to remind folks that it has surpassed Bishop Amat as the area’s dominant team by winning its first back-to-back CIF championship in school history? Will Bishop Amat take another step in reviving its glorious past under second-year coach Steve Hagerty, or will it take a step back and cause mass chaos in the chat rooms?

How will the new coaches, Duarte’s Tip Sanders, South El Monte’s Ray Hernandez, La Puente’s Brandon Roher, Wilson’s Brian Zavala and Pomona’s Johnny Brown perform under the bright lights now that practice time is over?


Which teams will fail, who will emerge, and who’s picture will we be taking for player of the year when all is said and done? Questions, questions. With high school football, there is so much we don’t know, like the future too. There may come a time when high school football games are all on cable television. I don’t know what the commentary would be like, but in an era when people text message instead of simply making a phone call, it won’t be surprising if fans decide to watch prep football games from a living room sofa instead of driving a mile down the road to watch it in person.

There might even be a high school ticket package like the pro’s, where you can flip around and watch whatever game you like. You could TIVO five or six, and spend Saturday not missing a thing. In the ever-evolving information of age of what’s next, following high school football already has seen drastic change. In the mid 80′s there there was only one way to know what Eric Bienemy was doing at Bishop Amat, you either went to the game or waited for your morning newspaper.

Fans that couldn’t wait tied up the Tribune phones on deadline, which later created the Tribune sports hotline, a number that fans dialed in for a round-up of scores on Friday nights. We didn’t have the business sense to charge for the phone calls, it was simply a way of catering to the readers who couldn’t wait until Saturday morning.

Boy have we become spoiled. When the internet began to take off in the late 90s, the first thing it did was end the search for those rare newsracks that carried all Southern California newspapers, which was the only way to read high school football coverage in Orange Country, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. Today all that information is a click away on your home computer. For those with internet on their cell phones, getting instant information on high school football games has never been easier. On Friday nights we post a football scoreboard on our high school web page, and we update it quarter-by-quarter so fans know instantly what’s happening around the Valley while they sit from the stands watching their favorite team. When you go home following the game we like to think we have one of the best high school blogs in the Southland (insidesocal.com/tribpreps) to satisfy your thirst for postgame coverage.

The “Saturday Morning Quarterback” weekly thread lists the Friday night results soon after games end, and fans are quick to offer their two cents in the comment section, giving their own description of one went on, challenging the tactics of a coach, or simply debating the games back-and-forth, which goes on-and-on throughout the weekend.

This is high school football today. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Will high school football players start twittering like the pro’s? Will we have to make a list of all the high school football players’ twitter pages to follow breaking news, to know if they’re twittering from the sidelines, to know if they’re sending out bulletin-board material or offering some keen insight inside the lines?

That is what is exciting about the information age, you don’t know what comes next, but we do know when it comes to high school sports, football will be at the forefront. Enough of that, the best part about this column is that the 2009 season is next, and a reminder of what I wrote in this space two years when I became the prep editor. I felt that way then, and I feel that way now.

For the players who started two-a-days, it’s lights camera and action time. As any former player worth his helmet can attest to, the wins and losses are never forgotten, but the basic lessons in life are applied forever. You’ll know about sacrifice, unselfishness, brotherhood, camaraderie, and it will be taught and drilled into your head from coaches who will go down as the some of the best role models you ever had. Players, the next 15 weeks are yours. Enjoy it, soak it up and revel in it. The stage is yours to perform in, so take it with class, integrity and a passion for the game that inspires those little kids peaking over the fence who someday hope to wear your jersey. We could go on forever, but turn the lights on already, it’s time to play some football.”

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