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Two undefeated teams going into Friday night

My home community will see something tonight that everybody should be a part of. Schools from opposite sides of the county have found themselves entering week 10 of high school football undefeated — and that one regular game left in the schedule just happens to be against each other. Just to sweeten the pot, the conference division title hangs in the balance.

As a proud alumnus of Benjamin Logan Local Schools, one of the sides of the night’s coin toss, I’m always proud to call myself a Raider. I’m especially proud tonight as I venture to enemy turf to see the boys of fall battle it out with the Indian Lake Lakers, who might as well be the team up north for all we’re concerned. I’m sure the same sentiment holds true for the other side of the field.

A picture from earlier this season when the Benjamin Logan Raiders took on another county team, the Bellefontaine Chieftains.
A picture from earlier this season when the Benjamin Logan Raiders took on another county team, the Bellefontaine Chieftains.

The Bellefontaine Examiner, our local newspaper, may have said it best when their headline read: ‘HISTORIC BATTLE AWAITS LAKERS, RAIDERS.’

“This will be the biggest game these kids have been a part of,” said the Ben Logan head coach, Jeff Fay, to the Examiner.

“Each year our goal is to win a league championship,” said Indian Lake head coach Dave Coburn to the newspaper. “Another goal of ours each year is to beat Ben Logan.”

Clearly, expectations are high going into the game.

Facebook has been filled the entire week leading up to the meeting with news of advanced ticket sales, profile pictures of school emblems, spirited war cries about how great so and so’s football team was, etc. Heck, our school even decided to order t-shirts ahead of the big game — a move in which the community ecstatically responded and even cheapskate Joel contributed a few dollars.

I think it’s hard to understand such a moment unless you’re part of it — and though I’m a few years removed from my time in high school, I, like a majority of my community, feel like we are a part of it this night.

There’s something about your high school — that same something found in your first car or when a best friend moves away or the moment your senior year you realize this is it. These are all things everybody has experienced, but the individual specific meaning is lost on all except for one — yourself.

No, I never played football (I was a cross country runner — yeah, I know), but there’s something about the sport that allows a person to project their hopes, joys, temperament, attitude, anguish, and thrills onto the teams at hand. That holds true all the way from the NFL right down to your local school team.

These young people we cheer on work tirelessly each day before and after school, putting in effort behind the scenes many will never see — and my hat’s off to them for that. But maybe it’s more than just playing football. Maybe it’s bigger than that. Maybe it means more than that. Hard work, good direction, and a little help from up above — all those things may land you in such a place as the Benjamin Logan Raiders and the Indian Lake Lakers game tonight. Whether that be under Friday night lights or in life itself, we should all be so fortunate.

Like it or not, we appoint our own dreams onto our youth in hopes they will attain success. Our community has gotten behind this meeting of cross county rivalries not because the teams are undefeated, but because each side sees themselves out there, and are projecting their own hopes and admirations to those wearing the shoulder pads.

Back when those now in the stands were on the gridiron, leading cheers from trackside, or fearlessly shouting from the student section — that special and unique experience is forever held within oneself, and it’s what this meeting is all about. It’s not just about football.

Though in the end we’ll feel either the sweet taste of victory or the sharp pain of loss, I think the showing of school pride and the spirit behind it exclaims the real meaning behind the game.

As communities, we’ve sent our best out on the field to represent us. We’ve already decided they’ll succeed, long before any kickoff on some field somewhere. I have no doubt both teams will play with heart and soul tonight, channeling the energy and spirit their home communities have lauded behind them.

As a reporter, I’m supposed to stay impartial to most all subjects in print. With that said, hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low, c’mon Raiders, let’s go!

It’s going to be a fight for the ages tonight. The showdown in Logan County starts at 7 p.m. at Indian Lake High School.

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