When it comes to seasons, my favorite is the fall by far. Some of you might ask why, given that Arizona lacks the beautiful colors of leaves changing and cool nights that places like Colorado have. But, for me, it’s not about the season itself, but what season it is.

No, my reason for loving fall has to do with the fresh-cut grass, the full stadiums of fans hoping that this will be the year their favorite team, whether at the national level, college level, or the high school level, make it to the title game.

High school football is one of my favorite things to cover. I became a journalist because of high school football. I started covering my high school team for the local newspaper in high school and knew that I wanted to keep writing from then on. I’ve always felt lucky to find what I want to do in life just by covering one high school football game.

While I later transitioned from sports into writing more in politics and investigative news, I couldn’t let my love of high-school sports go. I continued covering Friday night football for 12 years. In fact, this last Friday was the first time in 12 years I did not cover a game. I served as the command center, posting up-to-date scores on the website and Facebook. Believe me, it was not as fun as covering a game.

To this day, I still hear from players I covered for years. I still see articles appear about the accomplishments of some of those players.

I love the parents, the eager athletes and the magic that is halftime with bands, cheerleaders and mascots getting a rise out of the crowd. All of these aspects make what has become an American tradition special.

Football brings a community together. It is the sport that has the biggest audience because students are excited to wear the team’s colors, parents and grandparents eagerly await kick off, and the general public gets excited to see the local team play.

Oro Valley and Marana are lucky because they have several teams to get behind. Oro Valley has the current powerhouse Ironwood Ridge, followed by Canyon Del Oro’s strong program headed by Coach Dustin Peace.

In Marana, we have Mountain View and Marana High School looking at rebuilding, which requires more fans to turnout and show support.

Year after year, you have the team just wanting to improve, the standout player gaining all the attention, or the stars who not only take athletics seriously, but know that at the end of the day their grades matter just as much.

The thing I love about the high school level is the amount of heart the players and coaches have. They have a passion for the game, and it comes through.

Many of these players hope to do more after high school. Oro Valley has seen a lot of those players move on. Several Northwest players are currently supporting the red and blue, playing for the University of Arizona.

And, we are hearing good things about these former players we watched. Look at Jake Fischer and his community service projects.

Others, such as CDO’s Blake Martinez, have moved on to schools such as Stanford.

For us, as the high school football audience, there is always a sense of pride when we hear about a former player succeeding.

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