Get out the crimson-and-black hoodies…it’s football time


Fall’s in the air. I don’t know why yet. It’s only August, but I’ve got a tree in the side yard that has leaves already turning red on the top.

When leaves turn, I start thinking football. I’m a nut. Sunday’s were made for a breeze blowing through the house (and it will be free of clutter now that my last kid’s off at college) the big screen on, some homemade guacamole, chips, and couple of beers.

If the Vikings are on that usually means I’ll be yelling at someone. I’m still seriously thinking of moving to Minneapolis and filing a class action suit against Brad Childress for perpetrating a fraud on the people of Minnesota. He just pretended to be a real coach. I’m mean, geezus, just have Peterson take a knee and kick the damned field goal. My family made me leave Brad’s Pad in West Point because I was yelling too loud at the Vikings in that game against New Orleans. I yelled “BALLLL” at a fumble. The Vikes recovered and I looked down to find my youngest daughter UNDER THE TABLE and the residents trying to enjoy pizza staring at me in disbelief. It’s not like I had horns on or anything. Chill-ax.

Anyway, this year, there’s something more to get excited about in the fall. We’ve got two really good volleyball teams shaping up to make runs at state. Melissa Freesmeier is perennially one of the best high school coaches in the state, if not the nation, and Kent Bailey is coming off a conference championship and has his eyes set on state this year.

And this year we’ve got a little wind in our sales on the gridiron. And I’m just a bit giddy that Fridays are going to be something to behold compared to the last few years.

New head coach Tony Shiffman, fresh off a stint as a coodinator in the Rossview High School system in Clarksville, Tenn., has a new program to mold and is putting his aces in places.

Shance Redd-Donald is back from a 1st-Team All-District performance as a junior last year. He, along with Alex Gully and a beefed up offensive and defensive line that features senior Elijah Barnes and some other gritty kids, could create a lot of first downs this year. That’s… PEN CITY CURRENT FIRST DOWNS! Yeah, that’s right, we’re your official sponsor of every home first down this year.

My brother coaches in the West Burlington system, but he’s a punk and will be staying in the booth with a pair of headphones. He made my life a bit difficult in the girls basketball season coming back to beat Tony Johnson and the Holy Trinity girls in the 4th quarter of the Superconference tourney. So, Coach Shiffman, Derek, Luke, Andy et. al…, if it’s all the same to you guys, you can show them the door this year.

This year the Bloodhounds will get six home games, with another game in Keokuk and this could be a year where the tides change a bit. Football has a rich heritage in Fort Madison and we could be bringing that lofty tradition back.

I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with coach Shiffman and I find him to be a pretty intense guy, but totally in on his coaching staff. I wrote that something’s different about the approach to athletics in Fort Madison right now. It’s not hard to fault anyone with becoming a little disenfranchised with the program, after all they were 0-9 last year and got beat 0-81 by Washington.

You could say there’s no place to go but up. True, but that statement says a 3 or 4 win season is acceptable. Shiffman has put a “target” up for six wins. That’s saying something with the likes of Keokuk, Washington, Oskaloosa, and a West Burlington-Notre Dame squad that just added 20 plus players to their team on a vote to allow Danville to join the program.

But with six games at home and one in Keokuk, the crowd becomes the 12th player on the field. We need our 12th player.

So it’s time to dig out the crimson-and-black sweatshirts and jackets and caps. Let’s pack the place.

And I’ll try to keep it together this fall.

But that’s Beside the Point.

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