True confessions: It's Friday night lights

If you have ever watched NBC’s rightfully, hit TV show, “Friday Night Lights,” saw the Peter Berg movie of the same name or read the exceptional Buzz Bissinger book that inspired both shows then you might know why people around my area are excited right now.

This is “Week 0” in Texas. That is all you need to know although it means that it is the first week high school football teams can officially play over an 11-week season. If they played last night or tonight or Saturday they will have to take one week off during that time. Or at least that’s how I understand it. If I am wrong sorry.

One high school game tonight interests me greatly. Had circumstances not been beyond my control I would probably be one my way to watch the game.

It is the classic class 2A battle of the Newton Eagles and the Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs. The game will be played tonight in Corrigan, which is about 90 miles north of Houston.

Now my interest is two-fold but more accurately two-fold times two-fold by something or other square. Please forgive my math. I went to Newton High School. Actually, my poor math is owed more to my disinterest and disdain for arithmetic than the ability of that school’s teachers to teach it.

As an aside, Coach Curtis Barbay, 67, now in his 35th year as Newton head coach — who is the No. 8 winningest HS coach in Texas with a 302-93-6 record and who led his Eagles to three state championships — was my World History teacher during my sophomore year. Coach was less than inspiring as a history teacher and as I mentioned before, he once used his ham-handed fist to power a paddle that beat my ass for talking in class. When the Eagles won their last state championship in 2005, I finally forgave Barbay for that. Nonetheless, he was at least more than 35 years ago a mediocre history teacher — back then and my opinion only — but I eventually came to love the subject and generally excel at it. Although, I will admit I was probably a pretty mediocre if not exceptionally lazy student. I was, afterall, voted Laziest in my school.

With all of the former high school animosity out of the way, I have long been a fan of high school football and as well one of my old high school team. The fact that Barbay was able to win 300-some-odd games over 35 years as well as having few seasons without his team in the playoffs speaks to an exceptional coaching ability. But beyond that, it shows someone who can find raw talent and turn little into lots.

As for the Corrigan end of the equation, I lived there for a couple of years. It was where I had my first newspaper job as editor of the town’s little weekly. Now I must state here that even though I don’t plaster my name all over my blog, I have never made it difficult for those whom I do not know to find out just who the hell I am. So, I still am not going put my full name here there and everywhere just to add a little, imagined at least, mystique.

It was interesting editing the weekly and basically doing everything by myself with the exception of the three different secretaries who worked for me during those two years and my wonderful sales rep and friend who helped me leave that paper a lot better than it was.

The town itself gave me an education and insight into small-town America that my own childhood in an equally small town nor a truckload of Sinclair Lewis novels could have hardly afforded.

My feelings upon being the small-town editor that I often related to my friends was of it seeming as if “I was the full-time mayor though not elected.” When I visited the local grocery store, I was on, I was editor. I remember one old man, a fairly well-educated ne’er do well, sitting outside that store who threatened to whip my ass because I laughed about his indignancy over an error in the paper over which he could not cause me to cower.

And football! Man, was that town crazy over football! They also had a very heavy history of football insanity although I thought my hometown had a better record and didn’t seem quite as deranged about it. The school board meetings I covered at their school didn’t draw headlines over test scores, no it was about something related to football. That is with the exception of a national story on a slow news day when they decided to have a closed basketball game with a neighboring school due to threat of violence after a shooting in that nearby town.

I’ve looked at a couple of pre-season polls this afternoon. lists Newton as No. 10 in Texas 2A and Corrigan-Camden at No. 32. “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” only has 25 slots in their preason poll and lists Newton at No. 10. Of course, “Texas Football” is the premiere football publication in the state, not just according to me and not just because I think Dave Campbell is a very knowledgeable fellow and quite the gentleman. Whatever the polls, it’s a long couple of months. During the last few years, schools down here in the southeastern corner of Texas have had their ups and downs due to unexpected guests named Rita, Humberto and Ike. Hopefully, that kind of action will stay away this year.

Let men, women and children see hopefully the best of their schools and their towns, big and small. It’s time for Friday night lights. And it’s time for some football!