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Let’s talk a little football, shall we?

With the second week of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association’s state football playoffs wrapping up, I felt it proper to talk about how fun — and stressful — this time of year can be.

There’s nothing like the playoffs, in any sport. You can almost physically feel the weight of the game every night. Heck, for the players and coaches, they probably literally feel it.

And that’s not just because every team is battling for the top prize, but because of what it means to their towns and communities.

I wrote a column a few months back describing what I love most about high school sports. Towns seem to stop on game nights, and you can tell friend or foe by the school colors they don every Friday night.

I was lucky enough to be one of those fans for a few years, as my younger brother Heith played football for the Buffs. Let me tell you, I lived and breathed with every snap, every touchdown, every post-game celebratory meal. I also got scolded a time or two for (admittedly, unjustly) yelling about a bad penalty I thought was called.

Even though I didn’t go to a high school with a football team, I got to experience the magic that happens every Friday in the fall. And even though McAlester didn’t come home with the gold ball, getting to witness the state title game in Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater was a memorable night.

I’ll be honest with you, I shed a tear when it was all over. But now, I get to see the game from a totally new perspective.

I get to watch all of you enjoy this game — the players, fans, alumni, community members, its leaders, and more. I also get to see what a lot of you don’t get to see, like the hard work put into practice and what’s being said in the huddle after the game.

And let me tell you, you have a lot to be proud of with this team. They battle, they persevere, and they do it arm-in-arm with each other, knowing their community is behind them.

And that can be said for all of our area teams. Proud towns with time-honored traditions, while legends and legacies are made with each snap of the ball.

So, no matter how things have or will turn out for all of our area teams this season, I can say this with the utmost certainty: your communities are proud of you.

Whether you’re from McAlester, Hartshorne, Wilburton, Savanna, Canadian, or Quinton, the hard work you’ve all put in on game nights this season hasn’t gone unnoticed, and your city, schools, and loved ones will always have your back.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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