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I am ready for some football!

August 25, 2009 - Michael Palmer
The Times Leader's annual Pigskin Preview is published in Today's edition. I have endured a long boring summer and look forward to the tailgate party in the TL lot that signals the kick off of football season.

The Pigskin Preview is a labor of love due to the cold hard fact that nearly the entire staff here is addicted to high school football. I hope you notice the cover. Seth Staskey and I bounced around some ideas for a different design and he came up with the concept.

I roughed it in with Photoshop and Emily Dominici put the polish on to create a cover that I think will be appreciated by local gridiron fans. It does raise the bar for the basketball preview, so we already have our thinking caps on.

That means it's time for Prognosticating Pigskin style.

Using your powers of deduction to predict what the outcome of each game will be in high school football is a challenge.

The pressure is on for the high school pick ’em contest in the office this season. I had a good year in 2008, but the Buckeye 8 is a different animal this season and I think it will be a challenge to decipher. Another factor is Mike Hughes, he is a new face on the board this season and in my opinion, he is the man to beat. He is a student of football, carefully analyzing each week like it was a high stakes fantasy league, that makes him a favorite if the teams are predictable.

High school football can sometimes be unpredictable and that should be embraced as a good part of the game, despite it’s negative effect on the weekly picks, it adds to the fun.

My profile states I like taking photos of high school athletes and it is no secret that football is my favorite. It is a challenge to position yourself in the right spot to get ‘the shot’ of the running back or receiver. It is even more of a challenge to capture the action in the trenches where the spotlight seldom shines. These shots rarely make it onto the sports pages but I enjoy trying to get some blocking battles when I have a full game to shoot.

On Friday night I will have two, and on some nights three games to cover. This means I will be at your field for just long enough to hopefully get a photo worth putting on the sports page then I am off. Driving to another location where the parking lots are already packed full and then trying to find a spot in the same zip code to squeeze into before racing to the sidelines with equipment in tow.

It should be obvious by now that it is a labor of love for myself also. Kick off is Thursday and all of the sports department is feeling the adrenaline. Friday nights are hectic. Phones ring constantly with coaches calling in scores and other newspapers calling for results, adding to the frenzied environment as the sports department works towards deadline. The pages are filling up with the tales of the gridiron contests and I am busy getting photos ready. The Friday Night lights photo page is a lot of work for everyone but it is a great feature for all of the people involved in making high school football games happen: bands, cheerleaders, coaches, concession workers, fans, water boys and girls.

One worry is the forecast calls for thunderstorms on Friday. It was four or five seasons ago that we had an opening weekend that lightning delayed a couple of games until Sunday afternoon. Let’s hope this one goes off without those problems.

Until then, Good Luck to all the teams and I will see you on the sidelines.


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