Monday, April 27, 2009

Gatorade Replay..Thanks for the Memories!!

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Around 5:30 P.M. CST on Sunday, April 26, 2009...I received a call from my mother, who lives in Easton, Pennsylvania...actually Wilson Borough (my hometown) to be exact.

The call went like this....

Mom - "What was the final score to the game?"

Me - "The Liners won, mom"

Mom - "I know, but what was the score?"

Me - "P'burg 27-12"

The reason for the call was my mom was watching my old TV station, which during it's report gave the winner's name, but not the final score for the Gatorade Replay game that broke 1993's 7-7 tie between the two arch rival that meet every Thanksgiving morning at Lafayette College.

Of course, mom is a little jaded when it comes to reviewing the talent that replaced me when I moved to Chicago, but when she was done making light of the fact that the reporter was remiss in not giving the final score, it dawned on me that...high school football memories are as special as a first kiss!

This game was more than an advertising stunt, and my mom and the rest of the area were treating it as such!

They've play 102-games that counted before Sunday, but none of the 102 may have counted more than Sunday's Replay. It had all the romance of a Harlequin novel as two towns that have a combined population of 40,000 came together to show that the Thanksgiving Day rivalry is more than just a game. It showed the fabric of these two Delaware River communities, and it focused me on my job as America's central database for high school football.

The High School Football Huddle is about everything high school football....all 15,000 high schools and 1.3 million players, plus the cheerleaders and the bands. I promise you that this site will always be about ripping apart the fabric of communities around the country to tell the story of high school football.

Finally, for all of us who have thought, "if I had to do it all over again"...Sunday was a special day! It proved that there's nothing wrong with turning back the clock.

In closing, and using football terms...we should always remember that as time rushes by us, we should consider grabbing each passing moment and realize that the problems we tackled in high school, make very special memories.

Gatorade Replay showed that TIES really do bind.

And, don't forgot to check-out various video from throughout the day on College Hill in Easton, Pennsylvania...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

1993 Tie Broken...Phillipsburg 27 Easton 12

by Jeff Fisher
The High school Football Huddle

You can do it all over again!

Phillipsburg (NJ) beat Easton (PA) 27-12 Sunday in the Gatorade Replay game that broke a 7-7 tie from a 1993 Thanksgiving Day game between the Delaware River rivals. The game lived-up to its hype, and went a long way to proving that these two may own America's best high school football rivalry!

Click here to read about the game.

The Voice of Easton and Phillipsburg...A Real Turn-Back-the-Clock Guy

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Sitting here in Chicago, about 45 minutes from the start of the Easton-Phillipsburg Gatorade Replay game. I'm going to listen to the game on the internet with THE VOICE of the Red Rovers and Stateliners...Dick Hammer.

At 75 years young, Dick is my mentor and friend. However, to tens of thousands, he was the voice on WEST-AM Radio.

Dick's words have painted every hand-off, pass and tackle for these two schools since the 50's. WEST was known as "The Best Little Station in the Nation" for its community-based broadcasts that included not only Easton and Phillipsburg football, but also, basketball, baseball wrestling...YES WRESTLING. Hold-by-hold on the radio!

I spoke to Dick earlier this week, and he was very excited about calling today's game with his long-time sidekick Mike Moore, who also helped me cut my teeth in the news business back in the late 70's.

For those of you who have been following my blog about this yourself a favor and click onto the WGPA radio link below, and make this truly a throwback game by listening to a man, who has been calling sports on the radio for over 50 years. While I love the pictures of TV, there's NOTHING better than an old-time radio broadcast.

Click here to go to the WGPA website to listen to today's game.

High School Sports IS Big Business in Alabama

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

For years I've been talking about how the commercialization of high school football isn't necessarily good for the sport! Click here to see my commentary on the 2007 "Made for TV" football game between Northwestern (FL) and Southlake Carroll (TX).

The latest head shaking story for me comes from Alabama where the state's high school athletic association, that recently moved its Super Six football championships from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa and Auburn, is building revenue streams at a pace that left the AHSAA with a $2.3 million surplus at the end of 2007-08 according to a report on Click here to read the report.

Of course Alabama isn't the only state capitalizing on the popularity of high school sports. And, for the record, I'm not against such financial windfalls. I just hope that the money trickles down to ALL of the schools in the state.

In this day-and-age, money needs to be given to the education of students. Remember, sports is part of the education process...not the other way around!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easton (PA) vs. Phillipsburg (NJ)...Ready for the Way-Back Machine

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

While many may have considered Gatorade's idea to Replay the 1993 Easton-Phillipsburg Thanksgiving Day game to break the 7-7 a joke, on the eve of the game, the feeling in the two communities, is no different than it is on Thanksgiving Eve.

Complete with the traditional bonfire, everyone is getting into the sold-out game that will be played Sunday afternoon at Lafayette's Fisher Field.

For the players, there are probably the same butterflies that were felt 15-years ago. For one player, this replay has been a life changer. You can check-out that story from CNN's Reynolds Wolf below.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ)...It's a Family Affair

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

In about 48-hours, the communities of Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ) will turn back the clock and replay the 1993 Thanksgiving Day high school football game that ended in a 7-7 tie. The event, sponsored by Gatorade, has captured the two communities that are separated by the Delaware River in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey.

About 60-players from the 1993 squads have been training for a couple of months for this game that is sold-out to the tune of 13,000 tickets.

The process of getting in-shape has been documented with episodes on the Gatorade Mission G website, and today they released the third installment of the documentary.

I really like this one!! It focuses on the relationship between Easton's Tim Gadwell and Phillipsburg's Tyrone Randolph.

Check it out & enjoy!!

By the way, the game itself can be seen on Service Electric Cable at 8 P.M. Sunday night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Piedmont's (CA) A-11 Offense...No More

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

It appears as though there won't be an appeal to the February decision by the National Federation of State High School Athletic Association to ban the use of the controversial A-11 offense, invented by Piedmont High School in 2007, that made every player an eligible receiver.

Earlier this week, the Contra Costa Times reported that the California Interscholastic Federation's Football Advisory Committee decided against moving forward with a pilot program to study the effects of the A-11. Click here to read the Contra Costa Times story.

Below is video from a story last year in the Chicago Tribune about Riverside-Brookfield's use of the wide-open offense.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

California Looking to Grow Playoffs

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

The California Interscholastic Federation will vote on May 8th on whether to add an additional regional playoff round for the 2010 season.

The proposal would push-up the start of the season by own week, which means games would begin before the opening of the school year. In addition, the sections would have to end their playoffs by the first weekend in December.

Yesterday, according to a report in the LA Times, the Southern Section council voted against the proposal, which comes on the heels of the Los Angeles City Section voting for it. To read that story, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Texas Football Classic Match-ups Announced

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Officials of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Classic have announced the match-ups for this year's event that will be held August 27th through the 29th at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Here are the five games:

August 27th - Floresville San Antonio Fox Tech
August 28th - Boerne Champion vs. Midlothian
August 29th - Katy Mayde Creek vs. Brenham
August 29th - Odessa Permian vs. Duncanville
August 29th - San Antonio East Central vs. Cibolo Steele

The invitation-only event is considered the official kickoff of the Texas high school football season. Since 1999, 58 schools have participated in the event. The participating schools have captured 66 all-time Texas high school football titles.

Click here to go to Dave Campbell's Texas Football website.

Driscoll Catholic (IL) Going Deep...Into Pockets

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Driscoll Catholic High School (Addison, IL) supporters are leaving it all on the field as they continue to rally to save the Chicagoland high school football power.

Save Driscoll organizers will meet with the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest today in suburban Chicago to try to convince officials to keep the school open. The Christian Brothers announced April 2nd that the school would close its doors at the end of the year because of declining enrollment that is causing economic problems for the school that won seven Illinois high school football championships between 2001 and 2007.

Since the announcement earlier this month, Save Driscoll organizers say they have raised over $850,000 to keep the school open.

To read more from the Chicago Tribune, click here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Living in the Past...Playing in the Future

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

The buzz continues to grow around this weekend's Gatorade Replay game between the 1993 Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ) football teams. Friends and family in my hometown of Easton really seem to be pumped-up about this "old-timers" game, and from several recent conversations, I get the sense that this April 26th game is being treated as a real game by all involved.

For Huddle readers that haven't been following the story, the two Thanksgiving Day rivals will meet April 26th to settle a 7-7 tie from 16-years ago with players that played in that game. The game is sold-out with 10,000 tickets selling in 90-minutes. NFL quarterbacks/brothers Eli and Peyton Manning are honorary coaches for the game.

Below is the second episode of the second coming of Easton-Phillipsburg "1993 Part Deux".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ) Part Deux...A History Lesson from Gatorade's Replay

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Here's Episode 1 of Gatorade's Replay game between Easton (PA) and Phillipsburg (NJ). This fall the two will square-off on Thanksgiving morning for the 103rd time. But before that, Gatorade has come-up with a promotion to break the 1993 7-7 tie between the Delaware River rivals.

Yes, 35-something guys will be strapping on the shoulder pads one more time in the ultimate fantasy camp next Saturday (April 26th) at Lafayette College!

For those of you that are not familiar with the rivalry and the Gatorade promotion, check-out the video below.

2003 EA Sports Elite Quarterbacks Fail to Shine

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

With the NFL Draft just one week away, I found a very interesting article by reporter Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas.

Williams examines the college careers of former 2003 Texas high school football star quarterbacks Kirby Freeman (Brownwood HS) and Bobby Reid (Galena Park North Shore). Neither player was able to follow-up their high school success at the next level.

At the end of the story, the reporter adds a chart showing how Freeman and Reid and the 10 other quarterbacks invited to EA Sports Elite 11 Camp in 2003 fared in college.

The morale of the story..."blue chip recruiting is not an exact science."

Click here to read the story.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Former NFL QB to Coach High School Football in Idaho

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Former Arizona Cardinal and Denver Bronco quarterback Jake Plummer has come full circle. The Idaho native will coach quarterbacks at Sandpoint High School in the fall. To read more about the Bulldogs new assistant coach, click here.

Gatorade's Replay...Easton (PA) vs. Phillipsburg (NJ)

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

As all of my readers know, I'm an unabashed promoter of the Easton (PA)-Phillipsburg (NJ) annual Thanksgiving Day football game. I believe it's THE BEST high school football rivalry in America.

However, even I'm amazed how the two communities are approaching next Saturday's (April 26th) made-for-the-internet game between players from the 1993 Turkey Day game that ended in a 7-7 tie. It took only 90-minutes to sell-out tickets for the Gatorade Relay game.

The fans goggled-up the $10 tickets faster than you can say, "do 13,000 people really want to watch guys 15-years past their prime, play in another high school football game?"

Bottom line...these two communities, separated by the Delaware River, love this game! So in addition to being the best rivalry in high school football, this proves that they may also be THE BEST high school football fans!

To read more about preparation for game from the Express-Times, click here.

The game itself is part of a Gatorade documentary that is being shown Gatorade's Mission G website. The trailer is below.



Friday, April 17, 2009

Ohio to Allow a Third Pre-Season Scrimmage

By Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Starting this fall, Ohio High School Athletic Association football schools will be permitted to participate in three preseason contests instead of two. The third contest, known as a Jamboree, As in the past, may be held anytime between August 14 and August 22.

A Jamboree is a contest played in accordance with National Federation of State High School Associations playing rules for a game that can last between two quarters to a full game. The Jamboree will provide football teams with a "game-like" tune-up prior to the first official game and will give school athletic departments an additional revenue generating activity.

In addition, schools that sponsor a Jamboree will contribute a portion of the income to the OHSAA to help defray costs of providing catastrophe accident insurance coverage. OHSAA catastrophic accident insurance provides coverage for more than 300,000 Ohio interscholastic athletes in the event of a catastrophic injury (medical bills exceeding $25,000). The annual cost of the insurance is $700,000.

"I think the coaches are excited that they will be able to provide their players with another tune-up prior to their first game," Daniel B. Ross, OHSAA Commissioner. "By charging admission, it will also give our member schools another revenue source during these tough economic times.

"In addition, the revenues generated will assist in paying the annual insurance premium, which provides catastrophe accident coverage for member school students who are athletes, managers, trainers and cheerleaders within the entire interscholastic program," Ross added. "By approving the Jamboree, our Board of Directors believes this is a 'win-win' for everyone."

For more high school football news from around Ohio, click here to go to the Ohio High School Football Huddle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alabama High School Football Championships Leaving Birmingham

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

After a 13-year run in Birmingham's Legion Field, the Alabama High School Athletic Association is moving the state's Super Six high school football state championships. The AHSAA has voted to award the title games to Tuscaloosa and Auburn on a rotating basis, beginning with Tuscaloosa this fall.

The six-year deal calls for the Super Six to use Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium and Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“I want to thank the City of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Sports Foundation, the Cities of Auburn and Opelika and the Auburn/Opelika Tourism Bureau, and the City of Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as both the University of Alabama and Auburn University for their diligent efforts during this process,” said Moe Smith, President of the AHSAA Central Board in a news release on the AHSAA website. “I also want to thank Birmingham for its role in making the Super 6 and Final 48 events what they are today. As we move forward, we see this new arrangement with each city as one that will take our championships to new heights.”

To read more, click here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chicago High School Football Power Closes Its Doors

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

If the economy can take down financial stalwarts Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, it should come as no surprise that Chicagoland football power Driscoll Catholic (Addison, IL) is closing its doors. The reason for the closing? A drop in enrollment.

2008 was the first season in eight years that the Highlanders, who won seven straight 4A championships between 2001 and 2007, didn't play for for a state title this decade.

To read more, click here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not All Happy with Pennsylvania's Proposal to Expand Football Playoffs to Six Classes

by Jeff Fisher
The High School Football Huddle

Pennsylvania is one affirmative vote in May away from expanding the high school football post-season to six classification from its present four classes. However, not all schools in the state are happy with the proposal to add two classes.

The most vocal voices against expansion are coming from the western part of the state where WPIAL officials plan to meet twice next week to discuss the plans put forth by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. The PIAA is the state's governing body.

Click here to read more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.