There aren't many feelings that can match the first step out of the car on the first Friday night of the high school football season.
The sound of the band, the smell of grass, the feeling of intensity and the 105-degree heat index.
Maybe not that latter one, but it now comes hand-in-hand with the early start of football season.
During the past decade, the Georgia High School Association has consistently pushed up opening day of the football season.
Four of the county schools will play three games before Labor Day this season. Before Labor Day.
When I was in high school in the late '90s, we wouldn't even start school until a week before Labor Day.
We would have one football game before Labor Day, at most. Sometimes the season wouldn't start until after the September holiday.
Times have changed in the past seven years.
Football must now begin earlier so the Georgia High School Association can hold the state semifinals games at the Georgia Dome on the weekend of Thanksgiving.
The games in the dome used to come in December, leading right up to the winter break.
What is the motivation for the move?
Maybe it is because the GHSA wants a bigger gate at the dome with families who are in town for the holiday weekend.
Or maybe the state football's governing body moved it up to accommodate the Falcons or the television contracts.
I'm not sure why, but the move has accelerated the practice situation in the summer.
Teams started practice July 18 this season.
"We have to practice at 6 a.m. to stay out of the heat," said Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell.
"It is getting real dangerous to practice during the day."
Although there were no reported heat injuries in Columbia County, it probably is just a matter of time.
"I don't know why they don't play the championships in December, or even wait until January," said Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis.
"It is just too early and some kid is going to have to die before they change it," he said.
They could start games in July and I still would be excited about football. That doesn't mean it is the right thing to do, however.
Everyone should enjoy the start of football season Friday. Just try to keep cool on those metal bleachers.
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