Saturday, September 08, 2007

High School Football

Last night I went to my first high school football game since the fall of 1983. Nothing has changed. The stands are filled with only parents, except for the far right side where the students escape parental supervision and act like crazy people. The cooler students wander the outside edges of the field paying absolutely no attention to the game, and the two school bands duel each other across the field with musical rifts that can barely be heard.

In the fall of 1983 I quit high school football as a junior. I had played 9th and 10th grade on the varsity squad at Ft. Meade High School in Ft. Meade Maryland. Our family moved to Gaithersburg Maryland half-way through my high school career, and so started a new school in 1982.

When I tried out for the Gaithersburg football team, I figured out pretty quickly that Coach Harvill had his favorites. Boys that had played for him a few years and spent every waking minute in the gym lifting weights. I just didn’t fit in. After reaching the half-way point of the one season I was on the team, and not having a single second of playing time, I quit. When I left our record was 0-4 without a single touchdown scored. By the end of the season it was 2-8.

I guess I would have been more understanding if the team was on a rip and the starting squad that had played together 2 or 3 years prior to my arrival was allowed to rein terror on the field, but no… the “starters” were horrible. I watched missed tackle after missed tackle that I imagined I could have made. It was torturous. I walked away from the “team.”

The only other time I was on a high school football field was 2 years later on graduation day. Since then, for 23 years, I haven’t had occasion to go back on one. Until last night. The memories came- great football games (at least at Ft. Meade), playing in the marching band during half-time in my football gear, rowdy cheers and celebrations after the victories (again, only at Ft. Meade).

With K now in high school, and the Friday night ritual an apparent must to keep pace with the social activities of peers, it looks like I’m in for a few years of this.


Christa said...

There is something about a good high-school football game - and I'm not a big sports person. I remember I used to date one of the pep-band members so I went every single game. It was fantastic. :) Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Rich--- I live in Nashville but grew up in Gaithersburg,MD and played football at Gaithersburg from 1968 to 1970. John Harvill (note spelling) was my coach. I'm fairly certain that your memory is playing tricks on you. John Harvill is the winningest coach in Maryland high school history with more 300 wins over a 44 year career at GHS. He had at most 2 or 3 losing seasons over his whole career. He never had a winless season. He was a great coach and a great man--- 3 state championships and 3 state runners up and 4 or 5 teams from before MD had state playoffs that would've contended for state titles . At least 10 teams that finished in the Top 5 of the Washington Post's Metro Area rankings. GHS is in the Top 100 winningest high school programs nationwide. Sorry your experience wasn't a good one, but don't juice the story up with bogus recollections. Townes Duncan

DigitalRich said...

Townes- No juice here, and no bogus recollections. 1982 season record 0-10, 1983 season record 2-8.


Anonymous said...

Just came across this post while "Googling" John Harvill. Its unfortunate that you had such a bitter experience with Gaithersburg football, and particularly John Harvill. Mr. Duncan was absolutely correct about the history of Gaithersburg football under Coach Harvill, and I'm almost certain Gaithersburg has NEVER had an 0-10 season. The more obscure comment you have is about Coach Harvill's "boys", insinuating he somehow slighted you over people (probably much better) for playing time. Did you know John Harvill was the first coach to start a Black quarter back in Maryland high school football history? Did you know he was the first coach, along with Bob Milloy of Springbrook at the time, to play Black teams out of downtown DC & Northern VA? Did you know he invented the Maryland high school playoff system in the 1970's, in order give smaller/less fortunate schools a chance to play for the State Title? Sounds like Coach Harvill was always up for giving someone a chance, even if they weren't his "boys". Sorry to say it, but you are a bitter wrong about Gaitbersburg football & John Harvill TOB

DigitalRich said...


Please re-read the post. There is no bitterness there- I said clearly "I didn't fit in" and "I quit." That makes me the quitter, and does not make Harvill a bad guy. I did not live, breathe, sleep and eat football- thus, I didn't fit in and didn't get play time. A simple fact.

And- prove to me Gaithersburg Football's years and records. I looked it up. My numbers are facts unless you show me I'm mistaken.