On Friday I took off early from work to make a trip down to Hot Springs for a high school football game. This wasn't just any high school football game - it was the playoffs!
I was there to support Charleston. Now I didn't grow up or attend school in Charleston, but my family is from there and my cousin is on the team. Many Friday nights in the past few years have been spent watching Charleston play. But this game on Friday night would be epic. It seemed much more than a playoff game, it was more like the state finals. Before the game, Charleston was ranked #1 in the conference, while Fountain Lake was ranked #2. It also seemed like the final because the last time these two teams played each was last year, in the state finals.
I drove down to Hot Springs with my Dad and Aunt, and we made a quick stop in town for dinner at King's Chinese Buffet (love that place). The game was to be played at Fountain Lake, which is located just north of Hot Springs along Hwy. 7. We drove past Bathhouse Row and the clouds of steam coming from the springs. It didn't take us long to reach Fountain Lake, and the stadium.
I have to give Fountain Lake credit because they have a neat stadium. The stadium is situated on the top of a hill, and the field is surrounded by trees. While most high school football stadiums seem kinda dull, this one made it seem like you were sitting out in the middle of the woods watching a game. Also, the stadium had good lights, which made taking pictures easier. But I do have to add that the football stadium at my alma mater (North Little Rock High School - go Charging Wildcats!) had an interesting stadium too. There is a Waffle House right next door, so often times the stadium would smell like bacon and waffles.
Before the game, the senior players for Charleston stood on the field to watch the coin-toss. Included in that group is my cousin, #11.
The pre-game spirit line...
It was a bitterly cold night out there. The temperature quickly dropped well below freezing. This was taken in the first quarter, where Charleston would score the first touchdown of the game.
At halftime, Fountain Lake was winning 25-14. And it had gotten even colder. I had long since lost all feeling in my feet, even though I had tried to dress as warm as possible. The players left the field at halftime for either the locker room and/or a makeshift tent on the side of the field, I hurried over to one of the heaters along the sidelines. The heater looked like some sort of jet engine, but it was warm. I stuck a frozen foot there and tried to gain some feeling back in my extremities. That was probably a mistake, since it just made it worse as the cold air came back with a vengeance.
It was so cold out there that I wondered how the game would have been different had it been a bit warmer. I know very little about football, but I think both teams would have scored more had it not been freezing out there. There were no more goals in the second half, and the game ended at 25-14.
It was bad enough standing on the sidelines, I can't imagine what it must have been like for the players. But they tried their best, and neither team gave up until the final whistle.
When the game was over, we drove back into Hot Springs. Along the way, the thermometer in my car showed it to be 24 degrees outside.