The 12 Months of Football – Continued (August)
Another Month of Football Begins
To tell you the truth, I was getting kind of "footballed out" by the time the NFL preseason finally got under way in August. But, being the trooper that I am, I managed to catch a second wind and was somehow able to watch more football as the month got under way.
On August 6, the NFL kicked off its preseason with an American Bowl game in Japan between the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons. If you wanted to watch the game live it was on ESPN2, but you had to get up at 5 AM EST to do so. It was also replayed later that day at 6 PM on ESPN. Atlanta won the game 27-21. Two days later, on Monday night, August 8, the annual Hall of Fame game was played in Canton, Ohio. The Chicago Bears beat the Miami Dolphins 27-24.
The National Indoor Football League held its first ever NIFL All-Star Classic in Odessa, Texas on August 6 also. The Odessa Roughnecks took on a team of NIFL All-Stars representing the other 21 teams in the league. The All-Star squad was down by 18 points at halftime but came back to post a 49-44 victory over the Roughnecks. Odessa is the town that is at the center of the book and movie, "Friday Night Lights."
On August 14, United Indoor Football crowned its first ever league champion when the Sioux City Bandits hosted the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Storm in United Bowl 1 played in Sioux City, Iowa. The Storm won the game 40-38.
The high school football season also kicked off in late August here in Michigan. In many school districts, the first football games of the season occurred even before the first day of school. This was the case when I attended a varsity football game the first weekend of the season between the Galesburg-Augusta Rams and the visiting Vicksburg Bulldogs on August 26. My kids go to G-A and the first day of school was not until the Monday following the Friday night game.
G-A took a 19-18 lead after a long drive that consumer most of third quarter. The Rams even converted a couple of fourth downs to keep the drive going. Unfortunately, it was the last points the Rams would score as they lost the game to the Bulldogs 40-19.
The Galesburg-Augusta varsity football team has a connection to the Arena Football League through one of its assistant coaches. G-A’s offensive coordinator is Brian Dolph, a 1996 G-A graduate. After setting several school records in high school as a wide receiver and also in college at Division II Saginaw Valley State in Saginaw, Michigan, Dolph played WR/LB briefly in the Arena Football League. He was signed by the Houston Thunderbears towards the end of the 2001 season and played the 2002 season with the Indiana Firebirds.
In June, former Galesburg-Augusta head football coach Bill Maskill was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Maskill coached at the school from 1957-1990 and posted a lifetime high school coaching record of 273-84-2, During his time at G-A, Maskill’s teams won four state championships, 1962, 66, 67, and 70 and in his final season, 1990, the school was the Class C state runner-up. In 1983, Maskill was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and in 1986, the school honored their longtime coach by naming the football field after him. It has been known as Maskill Field ever since.
A documentary about Coach Maskill has been in the works for the past year and it is scheduled to be completed and released sometime in early 2006. Maskill’s son, Bill, Jr., who is also a G-A grad and played for his father, is now the head football coach at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas. Ironically, Midwestern State and Galesburg-Augusta both have the same school colors, maroon and gold!
ArenaCup VI, the af2 championship game, was played in Bossier City, Louisiana on August 27. The Memphis Xplorers defeated the Louisville Fire 63-41. The af2 was the last of the indoor football leagues still playing this year. The indoor season began back on January 28 when the Arena Football League kicked off its 2005 season. This was the first time that the ArenaCup was played at a neutral site. The game was televised nationally on Fox Sports Net and I was really looking forward to watching it. However, Fox Sports Detroit, which is available on my satellite dish, did not carry the game. Instead, the network aired a rebroadcast of a 2001 college hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State! To say the least, I was extremely disappointed.
Two days later, on August 29, my oldest son and I were at Ford Field in Detroit for an NFL Monday Night Football preseason game between the Detroit Lions and the St. Louis Rams. It was the first time I had ever been to a Monday Night Football game. New security measures introduced this year by the league include a pat down from shoulders to waist by security personnel of everyone entering an NFL stadium. I guess this is the world we live in now.
I have been to Detroit to see a game every year since the new stadium opened in 2002, but after attending a CFL game in Toronto earlier this summer and seeing that huge playing field at the Rogers Centre, the playing field at Ford Field seemed kind of small in comparison.
The thing about preseason games is that you get to see a lot of unknown players trying to make the team. Among the hopefuls for each team we noticed a couple of familiar faces that night as well. Detroit had punter Adam Anderson on their roster, a rookie from Western Michigan University here in Kalamazoo. St. Louis had kicker Remy Hamilton, who played college football at Michigan and was also with the Grand Rapids Rampage from 1998-1999. Hamilton has been playing for the Los Angeles Avengers since 2002. Both players were trying to earn a spot on their team and both saw action during the game. Unfortunately, both players were also cut the following day.
The Lions were also wearing their new, black jerseys for the first time during the nationally televised game. Personally, I’ll take Honolulu Blue and Silver any day.
My son and I left the game early in the fourth quarter, a little after 11 o’clock, with the Lions trailing 34-6. Detroit lost the game by the final score of 37-13. We listened to the end of the game and the post game interviews on the radio in our car as we made the two and a half hour drive back to Kalamazoo. We got home around 2 AM.
Since attending my first NFL game in 1975, I have seen all but six of the current 32 NFL teams play against the Detroit Lions. Now that I’ve seen the St. Louis Rams, the list is down to just five teams.
The total number of games attended this year now stands at 16 over eight consecutive months. The 12 Months of Football marches on!
A college football game in East Lansing, Michigan and more high school football.
Randy Snow covered the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League for ArenaFan from 2003-2008. He also covered the Fort Wayne Fusion of arenafootball2 in 2007. From 2004-2008 and in 2010, he was a member of the Arena Football League Writer’s Association and, since 2011, has been a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Randy lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan but will travel just about anywhere for a football game or a great football story. He runs the web site www.theworldoffootball.com and hosts a podcast with his son, Adam, called “This Week in The World of Football.”