2022 Year In Review

2022 Year In Review

After the last two years, it’s hard to say that a season was unusual. 2020 had so many twists and turns. Including spring games until June in New York City. Last year, there was some turbulence with scheduling. And I hurt my back after my trip to Arizona and things went downhill as the season went on.

This year, I was mostly healthy. Though getting older is not without its pitfalls. And things seemed to go on as planned. But my entire year had been affected by things including the economy and personal matters. I usually have a rather open personal life in the fall for football. And just work a bit more in the first eight months of the year. 2022 wasn’t that year.

I had done very well through April and then things fell apart. I had a trip with my daughter planned to Michigan. And then two more trips with her in the summer to Albuquerque as well as Duluth and Grand Forks. So, as the season was heading to a close I had a weekend planned for Oklahoma that fell through. And when it did, the issues cascaded through my Week 15 and Week 17 plans. I gave up going to Texas as the cost for the trip was spiraling. And not just for the trip. But work was calling. And a week in Florida wasn’t bad. But it was going to skip the Texas finals for the first time in over a decade.

Overall, my plans mostly carried through. My midseason work took me back to New Mexico and the Dakotas. Two areas I feel quite at home at. My preseason plans for a two-week trip to Iowa and Minnesota went well. Though financially questionable. That time and finances could’ve contributed to Oklahoma and Texas trips. But mostly it was pre-football travel that contributed to my convoluted finish to the 2022 season. Though, in the end, it was all worthwhile.

In games I’ve attended, there were 5,098 points scored, for an average of 50.48 points per game (a 0.35/game decrease from last year). The cumulative score was 3667-1431, for an average score of 36.31-14.17. Compared to 36.83-14.00 last year. The most points I saw were Elida’s 81 in their 81-29 win over Animas in Elida, New Mexico. For 11-man, the most was 63, scored by Centerville (IN) against Union City at Ball State’s Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Indiana.

For these season, here are some statistics.

States I watched games in:

15 – Pennsylvania
14 – Minnesota
13 – Iowa
11 – New Jersey
9 – Georgia
9 – North Dakota
6 – Ohio
5 – Indiana
4 – New Mexico
4 – South Dakota
3 – New York
2 – Texas
2 – West Virginia
2 – Florida
1 – Arizona
1 – Kansas

Championship Games by State:

6 – Pennsylvania
2 – West Virginia
2 – Florida
1 – Ohio

States of Teams I’ve Seen:

41 – Minnesota
30 – Pennsylvania
26 – Iowa
19 – New Jersey
18 – Georgia
10 – Iowa
10 – Ohio
8 – New Mexico
8 – South Dakota
5 – New York
5 – West Virginia
4 – Florida
4 – Texas
2 – Arizona
2 – Kansas
2 – North Dakota

Teams I’ve seen multiple times:

2 – Girard (PA)
2 – Clymer/Sherman/Panama (NY)
2 – Fertile-Beltrami (MN)
2 – Glyndon Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (MN)
2 – Barnesville (MN)
2 – New Castle Union (PA)
2 – Aliquippa (PA)
2 – Belle Vernon (PA)

Most points (one team):

81 – Elida (NM) v. Animas (10/22, 81-29, F/4th 7:17) (6-man)
76 – Abilene Christian (TX) v. Lubbock Kingdom Prep (9/17, 76-54) (6-man)
63 – Centerville (IN) v. Union City (10/8, 63-8)
61 – Fountain City Northeastern (IN) v. Knightstown (10/8, 61-6)
56 – Barnesville (MN) v. Crookston (11/4, 56-3)

Fewest points (one team):

0 – 8x total
3 – Clymer/Sherman/Panama (NY) v. Portville (10/1, 9-3)
3 – Crookston (MN) v. Barnesville (11/4, 56-3)
3 – Parkersburg South (WV) v. Huntington (12/3, 28-3) [Championship]

Most points (combined):

130 – Abilene Christian (76) v. Lubbock Kingdom Prep (54) (9/17, Lubbock, TX) (6-man)
110 – Elida (81) v. Animas (29) (10/22, Elida, NM) (6-man)
85 – Hoschton Mill Creek (44) v. Marietta Walton (41) (8/20, Atlanta, GA)
84 – Harlan (49) v. Adel A-D-M (35) (11/12, Cedar Falls, IA)
84 – Springfield (54) v. Deer River (30) (11/19, Minneapolis, MN)

Fewest points (combined):

12 – Portville (9) v. Clymer/Sherman/Panama (3) (10/1, Panama, NY)
13 – Glyndon Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (7) v. East Grand Forks (6) (11/3, Fargo, ND)
13 – Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (7) v. Upsala/Swanville (6) (11/4, Fargo, ND)
17 – Belle Vernon (9) v. Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti (8) (12/10, Mechanicsburg, PA) [Championship]
20 – Mount Vernon (14) v. Humboldt (6) (11/12, Cedar Falls, IA)

Biggest Blowouts:

55 – Centerville (63) v. Union City (8) (10/8, Muncie, IN)
55 – Fountain City Northeastern (61) v. Knightstown (6) (10/8, Muncie, IN)
55 – Warner (55) v. Mellette Northwestern (0) (F/3rd, 7:11) (10/14, Mellette, SD) (9-man)
53 – Jal (53) v. Clovis (0) (F/3rd 1:26) (9/15, Jal, NM)
53 – Barnesville (56) v. Crookston (3) (11/4, Fargo, ND)

Closest Games (by total score):

1 – (28-27) Erie Mercyhurst Prep v. Erie Seneca (9/10, Erie, PA)
1 – (28-27) Minneota v. Harmony Fillmore Central (11/19, Minneapolis, MN)
1 – (22-21) West Des Moines Valley v. West Des Moines Dowling Catholic (11/11, Cedar Falls, IA)
1 – (17-16) Inver Grove Heights Simley v. Cold Spring Rocori (11/17, Minneapolis, MN)
1 – (9-8) Belle Vernon v. Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti (12/10, Mechanicsburg, PA)
1 – (7-6) Glyndon Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton v. East Grand Forks (11/3, Fargo, ND)
1 – (7-6) Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg v. Upsala/Swanville (11/4, Fargo, ND)

Overtime games:

9/10 – Erie Mercyhurst Prep (28) v. Erie Seneca (27), Erie, PA
12/17 – Miami Columbus (16) v. Apopka (13), Fort Lauderdale, FL [Championship]

Most Memorabe Games:

20220820 HSF Hoschton Mill Creek (GA) 44, Marietta Walton (GA) 41, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
20220909 HSF Warren 50, Girard (PA) 28, Mike Shine Field, Youngsville, PA
20220910 HSF ERIE MERCYHURST PREP 28, Erie Seneca 27 (OT), Saxon Stadium, Erie, PA
20221001 HSF Portville (NY) 9, Clymer/Sherman/Panama (NY) 3, Jack Keeney Community Field, Panama, NY
20221022 HSF6 ELIDA (NM) 81, Animas (NM) 29 (F/4th 7:17), Acosta Field, Elida, NM
20221103 HSF Glyndon Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (MN) 7, East Grand Forks (MN) 6, Fargodome, Fargo, ND*
20221111 HSF West Des Moines Valley (IA) 22, West Des Moines Dowling Catholic (IA) 21, UNI-Dome, Cedar Falls, IA*
20221119 HSF Minneota (MN) 28, Harmony Fillmore Central (MN) 27, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN*
20221210 HSF Belle Vernon 9, Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti 8, Chapman Field, Mechanicsburg, PA** (3A)
20221217 HSF Miami Columbus (FL) 16, Apopka (FL) 13 (OT), DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL** (4M)

I’ll repeat what I’ve written about these games in chronological order.

Mill Creek 44, Walton 41 (@ Atlanta, GA)

Now, this was a great game. The two teams would trade scores, and Mill Creek would lead, 24-20 at the break. And then Mill Creek’s Jacob Ulrich would attempt a 55 yard FG and come up short. And then attempt a 56 yard FG on another drive and it was good.

Tied 34-34 in the fourth, Jacob Ulrich would tack on another field goal, from 24 yards out, to take the lead. Walton would answer with a short TD run to go up 41-37. And then Mill Creek would go downfield at the end, connecting on a 21 yard pass for six with just 19 seconds left. Mill Creek would win, 44-41.

Warren 50, Girard 28 (@ Youngsville, PA)

Youngsville had lost their football team. To many schools, their football team is their identity. Friday Night Lights are extinguished without a football team to play them. The Eagles had low numbers in 2016, And that was the last season the Youngsville Eagles varsity team would see the field.

An emergency co-op was coordinated the following season to combine with Warren. The much larger school in the Warren County School District swallowed up any pretense of a co-op, and was much more an absorption. Youngsville’s Friday Night Lights were no more, games at Mike Shine Field were a thing of the past. Until September 9th of 2022. The Warren Dragons’ home field–War Memorial Field–was undergoing renovations. And though they could play host to the first game on the schedule. The next game was certainly looking for another venue to host the game. And possibly the one after.

And that’s when favor fell upon Youngsville. The school reopened their field to the clamor of fans filling the stands. The lights blazing brightly in the night. The hills around town festooned with green, towering over the town, school, field and game.

Little Mike Shine Field was all dolled up and ready to go on that Friday night. The Dragons were hosting the Girard Yellowjackets. The cheerleaders practiced their pregame behind the old stands in the large field. The players walked their way back to the school up past the concession stand and ticket booth brought back to life. The band filling the air with melodic emphasis. The cheerleaders formed a run through. And there was the red and white Youngsville Eagles’ banner being carried onto the field of battle by a Warren Dragon player.

The game itself was great. After some back and forth, the home-away-from-homestanding the Dragons blew it open with a 43-13 halftime lead. Girard would score early in the third quarter to make it interesting. But the Dragons would slam the door shut on a 68 yard touchdown pass to answer. The fourth was a back-and-forth struggle to drain the clock. Before Girard would add on more touchdown. The Dragons would win, 50-28.

But the score wasn’t the point. A small town lives and dies with their football team. And though Youngsville may only have seen a light flickering of the flame that burns eternal; on two weekends in 2022 Youngsville had football again. And that made for a memorable game.

Mercyhurst Prep 28, Seneca 27 (OT) (@ Erie, PA)

This game was a fun one. The underdog Seneca Bobcats opened with a touchdown, and a two-point conversion after an assist from a penalty moving the ball closer by half. And then another score, to make it 15-0. But Mercyhurst Prep would make a comeback. Two touchdowns, but both with a single extra point. Trailing 15-14. Seneca would score once more, on a beautiful pass play.

But, they’d fail to score on the PAT, and leave a 7-point gap between them and the resurgent Lakers. And they’d come back. With 5:30 left, Mercyhurst Prep would score to tie it, 21-21. A series of possession changes late in the game, highlighted by Seneca’s interception return setting up a great opportunity went without points. And the game went to overtime.

Mercyhurst Prep would get the ball and score first on a one yard push up the middle. The PAT putting them up by 7. Seneca would score on the first play of their possession. But the two point attempt was discombobulated and Seneca would fall, 28-27 in one overtime.

Portville 9, Clymer/Sherman/Panama 3 (@ Panama, NY)

This was expected to be a very good game. And it lived up to its billing. After a scoreless first quarter, Portville got on the board by recording a safety 16 seconds into the second. That score would hold up until 45.3 seconds remained in the third quarter. Portville’s Zander Keim would run in an 11 yard score.

I’d be lying if I wasn’t at least partially hoping for a 2-0 final. Of all the odd scores I’ve seen over the year, I still have yet to see a 2-0 game. The closest I got was had I attended a WPIAL Final in 2017, when Quaker Valley defeated Aliquippa by that score. I was in South Dakota that weekend instead. I’ve seen a team score one point before I saw a team win 2-0. (that 32-1 final was in Canada, but I still will always count that).

However, with Portville dashing the possibility of a 2-0 final, I was hoping CSP could continue the comeback. Bryce Hinsdale would end the shutout, making it 9-3, but that is as close as the Wolfpack could manage. Final, Portville, 9-3.

Elida 81, Animas 29 (@ Elida, NM)

The wind was really picking up prior to the game. When I arrived, I checked with the small concessions trailer, and got a candy bar and a gatorade. I would’ve gotten a hot dog, but they weren’t ready yet. So, I was glad I had stopped before the game. There was a distant chance of getting to another game that evening. But, that would’ve meant foregoing food anywhere outside of a gas station.

I checked out the field some, got some photos of warmups. The cheerleaders were prepping for the game. Officials discussing with the coaches at midfield. And a young kid came up to me to tell me the hot dogs were ready. Definitely great service here in Elida. So, even though I was kinda full from the Snickers, I got a hot dog. it was well worth the $2 price.

One thing I hadn’t considered was that the name I had found online might not have been the name. My friend Bob at Stadium Connections had it listed as Elida Tiger Field. Which, I know from past discussions with him, if a name is lacking from his research, he goes with the school’s nickname and Field or Stadium. At the field itself, on the far end of the field to the north, is a baseball field and the gateway facing inward has ‘Acosta Field’ across the top. Though, almost everyone enters the field from the field’s western school side. Not sure which is correct, if either, but I decided Acosta Field makes more sense until I hear otherwise.

The game started with numbers that even some Pennsylvania or Ohio teams struggle to reach for 11-man. 17 on the roster for Animas, while Elida had 16 listed. The stands for the home side were portable bleachers. With others using lawn chairs along the cinder track encompassing the 80×40 yard field. The scoreboard squats just above the grass in the northeast corner. Trees line the east and southern edges of the field. Giving a nice break from the open expanses in all directions typical of the locale.

Animas opened the game with some quick footwork by Edel Molinar, taking a 23-21 first quarter lead. The second quarter was all Elida. The Tigers rattled off four touchdowns. While Animas was shutout. While Elida saw scores by a few others such as Seth Jimenez and Dalyn Taylor, Mason Pritchett was the go-to runner. Getting six touchdowns on the day. Including the penultimate score late in the third quarter. Animas had been struggling to keep up, but the loss of Molinar due to a lower leg injury completely wiped out their ability to keep pace. After a defensive stop deep in the Animas territory, Elida’s Cason Norman would score one final touchdown on the day, a short run I missed the yardage on as it ended the game. With 7:17 (ignore the typo in the tweet) left in the game, Elida won, 81-29 over Animas. A thoroughly enjoyable day and weekend of football.

Six-Man Spotlight: Elida v. Animas from New Mexico

Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 7, East Grand Forks 6 (@ Fargo, ND)

In what was probably the best game up to this point, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and East Grand Forks put on a clinic in exciting, low-scoring play. DGF, as they’re regularly referred to, were also the Rebels and were in all black. They’re located just east of Moorhead, Minnesota. Which is just across the river from Fargo. Meanwhile, East Grand Forks is also just across the river from a North Dakota city, the quite obvious Grand Forks. DGF and EGF were a kismet in abbreviations that probably won’t line up that well again.

Early in the second, DGF would score on a 6 yard run and get the extra point. And that would be it, until there was just 8 seconds left. On 4th and goal from the one, Clyde Anderson of EGF would score on a run. But the two point pass attempt would fall incomplete. In what appeared to be an uncalled pass interference. However, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton would win, 7-6.

West Des Moines Valley 22, West Des Moines Dowling Catholic 21
(@ Cedar Falls, IA)

I was not expecting much from this game. Calpreps had this game projected at 34-7 for the Maroons of Dowling Catholic. I had seen Dowling Catholic three times previously. I also saw Valley three times as well. In fact, I saw this very matchup in a previous semifinal weekend.

These two are, however, big rivals. The two schools are just 2.2 miles apart on Des Moines’ western suburbia. They’re well acquainted. And on top of this, Valley was only 7-4, having finished the regular season, 5-4. The 14th seed in the playoffs taking on the top seed.

Dowling Catholic would take a 7-0 first quarter lead, and eek out a 14-7 halftime advantage. The third quarter felt like the game had effectively ended. Dowling Catholic had scored once again, and a 21-7 lead felt insurmountable.

And then it happened.

Valley scored and then had the ball late in the game. Driving down field, Valley scored on a 3 yard TD run with 30 seconds left. And, facing a 21-20 deficit and the prospect of Dowling Catholic’s war hammer offense finding rhythm in overtime, went with the two point pass and miraculously threaded the needle through the crowd and caught by the receiver. A few plays later, the underdog Valley Tigers, no stranger to the state title game themselves, were on their way to compete for title #6.

All together, this was the best game of the year. The underdog status, the rivalry, the atmosphere, the location, the comeback, the two point try, everything.

Minneota 28, Fillmore Central 27 (@ Minneapolis, MN)

Minneota is my favorite Minnesota team because, well, I’ve seen them now 5 times. Also, I love the word play. Minneota is one letter short of the state’s name. And they’re also the Minneota Vikings. I’ve been through Minneota many times, as it’s near Marshall. A major city in southwestern Minnesota. And they’re high on my bucket list for a game some day.

This was such a great game. Minneota held the lead for most of the game, but Fillmore Central made a great run at the end. A late TD would cut the lead to 28-27, and they’d go for two. But, the try would fail. And then, Fillmore Central would get the ball back. A 4th and 3 pass would go for a long play on a hook and lateral. Down to the 18. First down would go incomplete in the endzone. A sack, and a spike would setup 4th down with 2 seconds left. And a pass into the endzone would go incomplete. Overthrowing everyone.

Belle Vernon 9, Neumann-Goretti 8 (@ Mechanicsburg, PA)

This was one of the worst games. And then one of the best finishes. The two teams accounted for roughly 168 yards in the first half. Willie Schwerha would get on the board first, with a 25 yard field goal. Later, on a punt attempt, the snap sailed over Schwerha’s head and bounded to the endzone. When he moved to corral the ball, he went down in a heap, though. Not even attempting to find the ball as his knee had given out. Very difficult injury to witness. Neumann-Goretti’s Samuel Hobbs would recover the ball for six. A two point run made it 8-3. Late in the third, Quinton Martin, the star for the Belle Vernon Leopards, would take a 16 yard catch in for six. The two point try failed. But, Belle Vernon led, 9-8. And then, the finish. The fourth quarter saw Neumann-Goretti convert a fourth down and have four cracks at the endzone. Leading to two fumbles. One recovered by Belle Vernon. Only setting up a first down at the goal line to try and avoid the disastrous safety. They did. Despite Neumann-Goretti getting a 4th timeout. And then a penalty giving them breathing room. A rare, and a first for me, 9-8 victory by Belle Vernon.

Miami Columbus 16, Apopka 13 (OT) (@ Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Apopka, another underdog, got the scoring started with a 22 yard field goal. But Columbus would answer with a 50 yard TD pass to go up 7-3. In the second quarter, Columbus would add a 32 yard field goal to go up 10-3. Apopka would try for a field goal as time expired in the half. But it was blocked.

Just as the Apopka band had taken the field. The announcement of a lightning delay was made. So, the whole stadium had to vacate the seating area and huddle under the stands.

Luckily, there was no rain at the moment. The lightning was to the east near the ocean. Though the temperature did feel a bit of a drop. With the stoppage happening at halftime, there wasn’t much to do. Though, the FHSAA did finish the timed halftime for warmups once it was over. A light mist had fallen during the break. But was dry when I returned roughly to where I had been sitting. And then the skies opened. A heavy mist followed for the next quarter or so.

In the fourth quarter, still trailing 10-3, Apopka would break through finally on a 4th and 4. A 46 yard QB run up the gut would spring free and would rumble in for the touchdown. There was no question Apopka would go for the PAT, and tie the game at 10-10.

At the end of the regulation. With the clock winding. Apopka had the ball and again drove for a field goal attempt. And as had happened in the first half, with just one second left, the 33 yard field goal was blocked. The game was heading to overtime.\

I had made the comment in a tweet that the fourth quarter was my last quarter of 2022. Again, I was wrong.

At the end of the rain delay, the Columbus student section had coalesced into the south endzone. So, after winning the toss, Apopka elected to play with the backs to the north endzone. Also, their student section was along the sideline to the north.

Apopka would settle for a field goal on their possession. And then, Columbus would get a big run on first down. A 5 yard run to the right. Second down would go for a slight loss. and third down would be a little flip to the right flat where the receiver was wide open going away to the endzone to corral the ball into his mits.

Those were my thoughts at the time of the games as documented on this site. In retrospect, I would say the Valley win over Dowling Catholic was my game of the year. A close second would be Minneota over Fillmore Central. And third would be Mill Creek over Walton.

The only two games that stand out on the list are the two that weren’t close. But they were memorable for their on reasons. Finallying seeing a game at Youngsville was maybe the most memorable game of the year. And Elida’s win over Animas was memorable for other reasons. Sometimes when I randomly do a game at a school, unannounced to avoid being catered to, I just find myself enamored with it. And the people. And then for the school to seemingly respond in kind. My photos and article were very well received by the school and I was quite thrilled by that. I always like to see my work appreciated.


Overall, my costs were down this year compared to last year. Having spent just $4920.59 for the 101 games compared to $6370.48 for 103 games last year. For gas and transportation costs (GT), was $1065.74. This included things like gas, a rental car one weekend when I needed it, the rare Uber or Lyft, etc. Food was only $1835.34 for the season. I tried to keep this down a bit compared to previous years. Last year, I had spent $2619.85. Tickets and Miscellaneous (TM) totaled $382.32 while Miscellaneous (M) cost $386.09. The difference between the two is whether the expense was game related or trip related. For instance: parking, souvenirs such as program or shirts, tickets, or raffles were under TM. While things like a car wash, or items such as a replacement car charger or USB cord would be regular Miscellaneous.

Then there were hotels. The second largest expense, though not all hotels are counted. If I was already traveling for work, then I wouldn’t count the hotel cost in this context. A hotel in Hobbs, New Mexico was not included, for example. And if traveling, I only was counting the cost and mileage from the start of the day for Game 1 and ended at the end of the final game for that weekend.

Hotels totaled $1251.10 and almost half that was from Week 0. My daughter and I traveled for Georgia for the Corky Kell Classic and I didn’t skimp on hotels with her. The Holiday Inn Express for the four days totaled most of the $599.93 cost for that weekend’s travels. Other hotels were split with my friend if we traveled together. Such as the Iowa-Minnesota two week trip.

For driving, the total mileage was 12,127 miles. Again, I only count the mileage between games when I’m away from home. But from home and back on weekends when I start at my house. For instance, Jal, Hobbs, and Kingdom Prep were only counting from Thursday night’s game and ending at Saturday night after the Kingdom Prep game in Lubbock.


This was such a different year. I know I repeat myself with that every year since Covid happened. However, this was for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, because the last four weeks did not go as planned.

This was my fifth year on the sideline at games. It’s amazing where it’s taken me. I’ve been on the sidelines of major professional and college stadiums around the country. This year, I added US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. I had been there for games. But thanks to Magnitude SN, I was on the sideline for a handful of games. I’ve been on the sidelines at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Heinz Field/Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, New Era Field/Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Though I’ve traveled well before 2018 for games, it’s been cool seeing the footballing world from the sidelines. Seeing unique moments and games. Great, anticipated games known nationally to games known only to the friends and families of the players.

New places such as Elida, Jal, Youngsville, Watertown, Ocean City, Wyndmere, were all incredible moments in a very interesting season.

Returning to places I’ve been such as Panama, Salamanca, Delta, Akron Ellet, Ball State, UNI-Dome, and the Fargodome. Such good times at all of them.

I had two plans fall through this year. One, I was hoping to find a way to get over to Idaho for a game at Butte County in Arco. However, that never transpired. Mostly because the schedule for Butte County was not cooperative. I did. I also was hoping to make it to Oklahoma the week before the Pennsylvania state finals. But, as with the rest of my end of season plans, that completely disintegrated. It’s how I wound up just going as a fan to a single OHSAA state final and the two Saturday state finals in Wheeling, West Virginia.

After an issue with last year’s two week trip to Iowa and Minnesota, I had hoped this season’s attempt would go more smoothly. However, my eye was giving me issues. Turns out, I had Shingles. I only found out because after arriving in Cedar Falls and watching the beginning of the first of two games on Wednesday, I booked an appointment at an eye clinic. I was having issues at Fargo the week before. But, was not expecting the diagnosis. I didn’t want to pay another $12.50 for the second half or so of the second game. So, instead of 28 games that trip, I only got to see 27 of them.



41 – Michigan

This was a banner year for me. In the summer, my daughter and I took a weeks long trip through Michigan for baseball games and a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Along the way, we zigzagged through the lower peninsula to visit the last remaining counties.

42 – Virginia

On the drive to Georgia for the Week 0 games, I traveled through central Virginia. Stopping for independent cities of Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. As well as four counties. Including Buckingham County. My 95th and final county.

43 – North Carolina

August 16th was an eventful day. As after crossing into North Carolina from Virginia brought me into the 100th and final county of North Carolina: Person County. Though it was noteworthy that I visited my final county of two different states in the same day. It’s actually the third time that I’ve done it. New Mexico and Colorado were completed on August 15th, 2010. While Washington and Oregon were completely on June 19th, 2011. Meanwhile, Arkansas and Kentucky were finished on consecutive days in 2012.

44 – Maryland

My final new state of 2022 was Maryland. I had just one county left in the state of mishapen counties. Kent County, located on the Delmarva Peninsula, was an odd one to get to efficiently. And why, after sitting unclaimed on my map for years, I finally made a specific trip through the state to claim it. On my way to Ocean City for a weekend of football.

In all, I am up to at least 3,100 counties. I believe I’m at 3,102. But the numbers can be difficult to count up. Since I’ve been going by ‘how many left’ subtracted from the reported total for the country. But there’s independent cities and some claim the census areas of Alaska’s Unorganized Borough count individually.

Travel Notes

The one fun thing about the games at Ocean City was the Ocean. Located across the parking lot from the high school’s football stadium was the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean. And between games on my second day. The heat unrelenting, and my feet aching. I waded out into the ocean.

This was the second year in a row I was in Texas’ oil fields. The area between Kermit and Mentone is bustling with wells and equipment. But still not with population. Though being there, it still feels so lacking in society. It’s just a mishmash of people with no sense of place. They don’t live there. They work and retreat back to Kermit or other nearby towns and cities such as Odessa or Midland even.

Travel isn’t much of an issue in West Texas. The 75mph speed limit on two lane roads is a nice bonus for being in this wide open area. Leaving Hobbs for the lone 6-man game in the area in Lubbock, I turned onto a small cutaross road and cruised down it toward Denver City.

The smell of oil and machinery permeates this area. It’s an interesting small town and one that is also on my bucket list. Along with Seminole, Plains, and Lamesa.

Driving home from South Dakota I decided to take the long way home. Across the Upper Peninsula and across the Mackinac Bridge. I’ve been up here a few times now and it’s such a refreshing, if longer, way home than to pass through the endless urbanized and industrial Chicagoland area from Beloit (WI) to Valparaiso (IN).

Devils Tower was some place I almost had seen before. As a kid, a trip to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Badlands, and the Black Hills was cut short and a side trip to Devils Tower was passed over. So, when I had the opportunity to sight-see on a sidetrip, I couldn’t pass it up. And finally got to at least see this incredible site.

Eastern Wyoming, aside from the Black Hills to the northeast with Devils Tower, is incredibly flat through much of the Great Divide Basin. A quirk of Wyoming’s topography. Though devoid of the salt beds associated with sequestered water found in Utah and far northeastern Nevada.

Visiting Monument Valley for the third time was fun. Years ago, I took a side trip through the area when I was western Colorado. And then my first wife and I made a trip from Los Angeles to home and cut through southern Utah that included a specific detour through Monument Valley Tribal Park. Winding our way through the towering buttes. This year, it was just passing through along my trip to Phoenix. Getting to see the valley as the sun set behind them.

After leaving Elida, the one thing I enjoyed on a late Saturday afternoon was the solitude. You can’t get this out East. The road from Elida to Dora just went on in a straight line with nary a soul on it save for myself. Narrow, bumpy, devoid of life. Just a line of power poles and an array of windmills.

The one interesting thing about West Texas, is that you never know exactly where you’ll end up. For me, that was prison. Not as an inmate. But just stopping by for something and then leaving. But going through the whole check-in procedure was an eye opener. Especially being on the grounds and getting catcalled. Now that was an experience.

After a busy Thursday, I had a very difficult decision to make. Which Thursday game would I attend in West Texas. And there was very few options. I wanted to avoid the big schools in Lubbock or Amarillo. Though I could’ve gotten in with my TXHSFB press pass. However, I wante a small school. And made the very long drive from Lubbock to Follett. I took the scenic route, though, through the Caprock Canyon.

I love roadside Americana. When I saw the sign on US20, I had to travel into Sac City to see the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball. Housed in a small building on the main street, surrounded by a small frontier village recreation.

Later in that side trip to Sioux City included a brief circuitous route through Vermillion, South Dakota and down to Pender, Nebraska. A town I had visited last year to see a game.

Long drives are just part of my reality. Many times I’ve driven from Texas to home leaving the UIL State Finals. This year, however, was a long drive from my hotel in Minneapolis through Columbus to drop off my friend, and then the nearly three additional hours home. Only 944 total miles. Taking just over 17 hours.


Old Harbor (Cumming, Georgia)

This place was near my hotel in Georgia. And it had authentic shrimp boils. The spices were perfect. The corn, shrimp and potatoes were all cooked well. The sausage could’ve been seared a bit before going in. But it tasted fine. And the shrimp was in the shell. An unbelievable amount of liquid with the order. Which is served in a sealed plastic container on a high walled tray to not spill everywhere.

Q Korean Steakhouse (Cumming, Georgia)

This was my first time at a Korean Barbeque. Where you cook the meat at your table on an in-table hot plate heated by burners. The pork belly was the best meat option. The rest were a bit underwhelming. Especially for the cost. My daughter didn’t like any thing they had.

This is Wings & Seafood (Pikesville, Maryland)

During the covid 2020 spring season, I stopped here for a late dinner to take back to the hotel. Located north of Baltimore, it’s the pinnacle of being a ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant. There is no seating. It’s just take out. They’ve got wings. And they’ve got seafood. And though the wings were good. The loaded fries were the star of the show. This was the steak and shrimp loaded fries. Tremendous seasoning and cheese drenching the fries. Piled high with shrimp and strips of steak. I had to stop on my trip east to Ocean City that meandered through the Land of Mary.

Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls (Ocean City, New Jersey)

After my waltz through the surf of the Atlantic Ocean, I wondered along the boardwalk to this shack. I ordered the Classic Roll as a Jumbo. Which was $23.99 plus tax. It may have been a bit excessive. But how often do you get a real, authentic lobster roll on a split top bun just feet from the ocean?

Sushi Bomb (Robinson Twp, Pennsylvania)

I try to stop here whenever I can. Though it’s not frequent enough. Sushi Bomb is all you can eat, but it’s by order. Because of the long waits with a busy dining room, you have time to contemplate your next order and plan for it hoping it will be enough to get you to your next order, but not too much that you’ll be unable to finish. And when you’re a bit pressed for time, you really have to make a judgement call on what to order. The Dragon Roll, Tiger Roll and Mango Rolls are all good. As well as the Nigiri. The Unagi Nigiri is good, but not the best I’ve had. Though the Philadelphia Roll and SAT Roll are worthy ‘small roll’ choices.

Laredo Taco Company (Various locations, Texas & New Mexico)

Carnitas Bravas with Cilantro Lime Sauce

Barbacoa with Habanero Sauce

Chicken Enchilada Plate

Beef Enchilada Plate

It’s hard to find something bad here. And the thing is almost every Stripes gas station has a Laredo Taco Company. And now that 7-Eleven has purchased Stripes, they are starting to place LTCs at locations in other states. First at one in Greensburg, PA and now a handful on the west side of Cleveland. Though I haven’t been to one to critique it just yet compared to the Texas based ones.

My favorite taco is the Barbacoa. Face meat. That might sound unappetizing to many of you. It’s a greasy, slimy taco. The flavor is sublime, and it’s filling. And I do recommend having baby wipes because the grease will get everywhere. But it’s a taste all its own. Aside from that, the more traditional Carnitas Bravas is good, as long as the salsa bar has something other than regular pico since they can be dry without beans. Something I don’t have on my tacos. The habanero sauce is good, or the Salsa Verde.

The half chicken meals are good, though I’ve passed on them. If you can find the enchilada meals as soon as they’re placed on the trays along the order line, they’re some of the best $5 meals you will ever purchase. Especially with today’s prices for everything. However, if they’ve sat for too long, the bottoms were harden and the value drops some. The beef is very strongly spiced, while the Chicken is a mild, brothy flavor. Both worth it over the Mexican rice.

Saxony Room (Hobbs, New Mexico)

The night before, I was in Kermit, Texas. After seeing the Thursday night game in Jal. I spent the day in Kermit working before making the 70 mile or so drive north to Hobbs. Stopping just in time for dinner at the Saxony Room and getting a room for the night in the encompassing hotel. The Bourbon Street Ribeye was good, but very thin. Leaving my rare request basically unable to be fulfilled. Instead, I got a very good steak with great added flavor. But, it could’ve been better. The bourbon sauce was good.

Allsup’s (Various Locations, Texas & New Mexico)

I never really thought much of Allsups. Stripes and their associated Laredo Taco Company was my favorite. However, in small towns like Plains, there isn’t one. And Denver City’s newest LTC isn’t even open late in the afternoon on a Saturday. Though Allsups relies heavily on deep fried fare. It is good fare. The Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños are worth a purchase every time I see an Allsups.

Big Texan (Amarillo, Texas)

I’m a sucker for this place. The fried mushrooms are my go to item. But the steaks are worthy competitiors. However, the Prime Rib for breakfast on Sunday morning was the best I’ve had in a while. A big 16oz slab. Definitely my new favorite at Big Texan.

Swensons (Akron, Ohio)

I’m happy to see Boardman now has one. However, they are no match for one of the originals. The North Akron location off Route 8 is my favorite. Swensons is home to the Galley Boy. Which I can only describe as one of the best hamburgers you’ll ever find. It has a very unique, sweet flavor that’s matched by the simplicity of the burger, toasted bun, and che

Wyndmere High School (Wyndmere, North Dakota)

One of the few non-restaurant places worth listing. For the Wyndmere/Lidgerwood game against Hatton/Northwood, the concession stand was well worth the trip. The pulled pork sandwiches were great. And cheap enough to have more than one. The barbeque sauce was cold, so that was a bit of downside. But these were good plain.

And this artery clogger was only $1. I don’t even think the ingredients cost less than $1. It was good. But only in small doses. The sugar rush that hits you will knock you back.

Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli (Moorcroft, Wyoming)

I’ve been here before. It’s a great find that has a few locations sprinkled around the upper midwest and moutain north. The best sandwich I’ve found is the Cajun Crab Cake. Though the Pastrami is also worthwhile. The bread is what makes the sandwich. Though the Avocado on the Cajun Crab Cake is a divine combo.

Tolleson Union High School (Tolleson, Arizona)

The school had a food truck (and a shaved ice truck) for their games in lieu of a regular concession stand. And this quesadilla I purchased after the game was one of the best quesadillas I’ve ever had. Perfectly crunchy but not falling apart. The meat wasn’t dry but not running. Almost wish I had two.

Benjamin’s (Covington, Indiana)

This was the third straight year (sans Covid-2020) stopping at Benjamin’s on my way to Iowa. The first year was Steak Tips and Noodles. Last year was a Ribeye Sandwich. This year, was a Prime Rib Sandwich. The grilling made it a little dry. But the flavor was incredible. A great price, too for what you are getting.

J’s Homestyle Cooking (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

I wish I had taken a photo of the food. This place is constantly busy. But the monster omelet with sausage gravy and cheese covering it was the star of the show.

Sneaky’s Chicken (Sioux City, Iowa)

Between weekends in Iowa and Minnesota, allowed some time to travel. And that included a three day stop in Sioux City. And just down the road from the hotel was this gem. Sneaky’s Chicken has been open for decades and hosts a small buffet of fried chicken with various sides. The chicken is crispy but incredibly juicy. The coleslaw is incredibly thick. Stopped here twice.

Pollo Tropical (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Though there’s many of these throughout south Florida, I hadn’t been to one in a while. Since I’m rarely ever down here. Especially since my ex-wife and I no longer visit her family in Fort Lauderdale.

But, Pollo Tropical is fast food that’s good. Their carribean style bone-in chicken is great. But it was their sauce bar that was the pinnacle. Though Covid seems to have done away with it. Instead, you must ask for the sauces you want. And twice they were out. The Garlic Cilantro was the best sauce. Though the Curry was great, too when they’ve had it. For a drink, though pricy, the Tropichiller was a blended ice drink with very strong taste of strawberry. I ended up with three for the day.

Hola (South Bay, Florida)

I found this place years ago when shunpiking the Florida Turnpike. Located just south of Lake Okeechobee along US27. It’s changed names over time. But the little food counter inside is still just the same. Every thing they serve is good.

For this trip, I got the Bistec con Papas over Rice. With a side of plantains. And two of the $3 real Mexican Sprites. Unlike in the US, Mexican soft drinks use real cane sugar. And I don’t care what people claim, there is a huge difference in taste and how it feels in your mouth. Plus, drinking from the glass bottles holds the cold longer than plastic bottles. And lacks the metallic taste from a can.

Major Chains (Various)

HuHot (various)

I hope one day the Youngstown area gets a HuHot.

Red Lobster

Rare for a gameday meal. But, the endless shrimp is a good deal as long as the wait for refills is not insufferable.

Charley’s Cheesesteaks

I’ve found this place before. But was underwelmed by their sandwiches. Reminded me a lot of Great Steak and Potato Co. that was in downtown Cleveland, but lacking authenticity. Charley’s is a chain and they’re very sporadic. I found this one in Fargo at the Petro the morning I was heading over to the Fargodome for the final four of the five-game schedule on Friday. The reason for the stop? Because Charley’s has the “Old School” which is a Philly Cheesesteak made with cheese sauce, rather than traditional cheese. Which is the traditional way a cheesesteak in Philadelphia is made. And it’s a really good sandwich they have as long as they keep the Old School.


#1 Corky Kell

This was the second year in a row that I started my season in Georgia for the Corky Kell Classic. I also went with my daughter. It’s more of a vacation for her than football for me. But we did quite a bit. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Cumming, Georgia for four days. The indoor pool is very nice which was my daughter’s big selling point.

The Corky Kell is a great way to start the season. First there’s two doubleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday, with a three game slate on Friday. Culminating with a four-game Saturday at the home of the Falcons in Atlanta.

The majority of the games are centered on teams located north/northeast of Atlanta. With Forsyth County being a common location of games and participating teams, getting a hotel in Cumming made the most sense. However, the Friday tripleheader was over an hour away in Rome.

And rather than driving back and forth, with a late night return and an early morning turn around for Mercedes-Benz Stadium, I opted for just a single game nearby. And that nearby was Forsyth Central located near downtown Cumming. The one-time Forsyth County High School, since renamed as the county now hosts eight high schools, seven of which host football teams.

Going to a non-Corky Kell game was a bit of question. Since my daughter had a press pass through the Corky Kell for the Corky Kell games, but not necessarily for other games. However, there were no issues at Forsyth Central to cover their game against Chattahoochee. It was a great game, if not close, as well. With Jayce Todaro pulling off the Al Bundy mark just 9:27 into the season.

The schedule worked out well as the Wednesday games were not far away in Johns Creek, while Thursdays games were just west of Cumming at West Forsyth. A stadium we had been to back in 2021. The season started with some horrible weather. At the tail ending of the first game, the rains came. And a deluge inundated the stadium. My daughter and I stayed under the outcropping of the pressbox and what not behind the home side. Where the concessions were located.

Saturday was a short drive down to Mercerdes-Benz Stadium. And then issues. Firstly, the Home Depot Backyard parking area was closed. And I had no idea where to park. So, I followed the stadium around the south and east side until finding the Silver Deck. Though it was at the far end of the stadium from the media entrance. I realized later that there was a lot across the street from the stadium complex closer to the media entrance.

And once inside the stadium, realized I had forgotten my power brick in the truck. So, I had to hunt around for anyway to charge my phone, tablet, and daughter’s phone during the day. Since they were all certainly not going to last through four full games.

So, after the first game, we left back for the truck to get the power brick, and return. Having trek all the way back to the media entrance to reenter. With the heat and humidity, it wasn’t exactly a fun time. We did spend two of the games mostly in the stands watching the games. Going on/off between halves to get some of the games photographed for Score Atlanta, and taking some time to relax.

Unlike last year, I was smart this year to keep the hotel for another night. In 2021, I had arranged checkout to be on Saturday and figured we’d get some driving in. That failed, as our stop at Cookout had taken almost an hour and we barely reached Marietta before stopping. With the moving travel bags, camera, laptop, her toys, etc. It was easier to just stay at the same hotel and check out on Sunday. Which was good, because just as we reached the truck in the not fully enclosed Silver Deck, the skies opened and a monsoon surrounded us. The drive to the hotel went until 1am.

It was a fun trip to do for a second year in a row. I considered returning for a third straight year. However, I have something new planned for 2023. But, I’m certain I will be back.

2022 Week 0 (Georgia)

#2 Youngsville

Well, I may have never lived in Youngsville. But I’ve been on the Youngsville field probably more than any other field. As a kid, we’d visit my great aunt there. She was a former teacher and lived across the street from the school. And in the summer (I was never there during school), I spent a lot of time running around and across that field, and riding my bike along the sidewalks and asphalt around the school.

But I had never attended a game there. It was one of those things I put off. For years. I figured I’d get to a game there, at some point. And when I made a concerted effort to attend games at new places, this was always low on my list. After all, I had been there. Innumerous times. Just never for a game. Until 2013. I had planned to attend the Sheffield at Youngsville game to close out the season. However, Sheffield pulled off the improbable, and won the AML North. Which setup a last week of the season AML Championship against Kane. Youngsville, though, opted not to find a replacement. And then in 2014 and 2015, my second wife and I mostly stuck with Greenville games with a few exceptions. 2016 saw the birth of my daughter. And the cancellation of Youngsville’s season after running short on players and abruptly cancelling against Farrell. But, not after still having matchup with Erie East slated to be played. The 2017 season never happened. And they haven’t played since.

2022 HSF Wk 3 Pennsylvania

It was such an experience to see a game here. A stadium I thought had become an impossible option for me. An entry on my bucket list left unmarked. But I did. And it was perfect. The only thing better would be if it really was the Youngsville Eagles. But, I’ll take what I can get. Maybe one day if 8-man becomes a legitimized thing in Pennsylvania, Youngsville could have their own team again. Though numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction.

#3 Not Texas

I spend a ton of time in Texas. Mostly West Texas, but getting to Arlington for the state finals has been a near annual occurance since 2011. In 2010, I attended a four-game Saturday at what was then called Cowboys Stadium and made it a point to be back for the state finals a few weeks later.

And I had been back every year since. Except for 2015. Due to a scheduling snafu, the UIL finals couldn’t be played at AT&T Stadium. Instead, the games were played at NRG Stadium in Houston.

I was not impressed. It’s huge, yes. But the comfort of sitting at AT&T Stadium for four straight days is far beyond the rather non-descript seating at NRG Stadium. Though it had given me my first games in the third Texas dome. I had seen two state championship games at the Alamodome.

And since 2016, I had not missed my chance to see the UIL State Finals at AT&T Stadium. Even during Covid. In 2020, only the 1A through 4A classes were held in December. While the 5A and 6A classes were held in January. I was there for them all. Even seeing the postponed 1AD2 game between Balmorhea and Richland Springs that was delayed and relocated to San Angelo.

But not this year.

There were a few reasons for it. I knew before the season that making all my planned trips was going to be unlikely. But, I had accepted that Texas would likely be the trip that got axed. It’s an expensive trip. And as much as Iowa and Minnesota were expensive, it was for upwards of 28 games over two weekends. But a shared trip with a friend. This was going to be just myself. And as the season came to a close, I had decided I was going to skip out on Texas. For the first time since 2008 I wasn’t going to attend a single playoff game in Texas.

In 2009 I had seen the two state finals at the Alamodome. And in 2010, I had seen two state semifinals at SMU’s Ford Stadium in Dallas. That doubleheader featuring Denton Guyer and Denton Ryan.

And this year, I did see two games in Texas. Kingdom Prep in Lubbock hosted Abilene Christian. While Follett hosted White Deer. What’s unique about those two games, is I had seen three of the four previously. Only Kingdom Prep was new. And both of those games were six-man. So, my first year since 2008 not seeing an 11-man game in Texas.

However, after returning home from the PIAA State Finals at Cumberland Valley’s Chapman Field, I had the opportunity to go to Fort Lauderdale. Fort Lauderdale was, conveniently, where the last five Florida state finals were being played. At Inter Miami CF’s DRV PNK Stadium. A quickly built stadium on the site of Lockhart Stadium. A stopgapp measure to get a stadium available to host the team before their, hopeful, home stadium can be built in Miami proper.

So, I had to do it. Even if I was just going to catch the two Saturday games while I was free. It definitely was not the same. It rained. And though it was outdoors, at least there was a roof. Until the lightning delay necessitated us moving below the structure during the second game’s halftime.

It was different. But, it still was a fitting way to end the season. It also didn’t want to end. As the final game of my season ended in overtime.

#4 Favorites

Earlier this season, I was asked my opinion of the various state championships from around the country. Judging not just the game itself, but the setup, location, cost, worth, etc of them by state. So, I made a list and included it in my Florida recap. And my opinions haven’t changed in the past few weeks. So, here is what I wrote. And following this, will be another list.

Best State Championships

Having seen 23 states’ state championship games. I was asked to rank them. And though my experience spans many years now. I thought I’d rank them in terms of my enjoyment and cost for them. Both the venue, the atmosphere, the food, the cost and not factoring in the trip as well.

#1 Texas

What needs to be said. First, there’s twelve games setup as four tripleheaders. The downside is the cost (now $20 tickets, and $20 parking). Though I did get in parking for free with a friend who is media the past few years. The atmosphere is second to none. And it’s at the end of the season. The only real CON is that due to the large crowds, getting in and around the stadium can be an issue. Though if you arrive early and get a front row in the mezzanine or club level, you have the best view in football.

#2 West Virginia

This may be a headscratcher for some. Wheeling Island Stadium is perfectly sized for the crowds. The tickets are reasonable at $23 for the three game weekend, or $10 per game. The parking is free. And a casino is across the parking lot to kill time between the Saturday games. The only real downside is the scoreboard lacks a usable video board for replay. And that there’s only three games total. But, Wheeling treats you well. And as media, it’s high on my list for accommodations.

#3 Iowa

Iowa plays both their state semifinals and finals at the UNI-Dome. It’s not centrally located. But the seven games are spaced well over two days. The single ticket per session is a bargain. And parking is plentiful and free if you arrive for the first game. The dome is a dome. That seats about 23k. Never overly crampt. And the football is good if you like the old hardnosed wrap up tackling. The state does lack for speed, though. But the tackling is taught well in a state known for wrestling.

#4 Indiana

Centrally located, in a dome, great seats. Six games over two days in three game sessions all on one ticket. The parking is a bit of an issue. Not that it lacks, but that it’s expensive. Tickets were $10 per day when I was there as a fan. And their media treatment was good when I went. Though, I’ve been told the pressbox has declined post covid.

#5 Delaware

Delaware only has two classifications. And the games are held as a doubleheader at University of Delaware’s Delaware Stadium. The crowd for the large school game was impressive. Far greater than I was expecting. And vocal. The tickets were reasonable. Parking was easy. It was setup as a doubleheader. And the crowd was good. The games were decent. But with only two games you can only go with what you have. Delaware does not have a lot of high schools. But, for a single doubleheader to crown all the state champions? It was good.

#6 Tennessee

I saw the games at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. They’ve since moved to Finley Stadium in Chattanooga. I’ve been there, and not a huge fan of the place. But the state has nine title games over three days. One day of private schools and two days of public/non-scholarship schools. The tickets were cheap. Parking was… easily accessed for free. Lots to do around campus before or after the games. Venue is similar to Wheeling or Iowa. Great size for the crowd. No restrictions on cameras. And good games, as well.

#7 Illinois

I questioned where to put this one. But if you’re only going for one game, it has an advantage. I went for all eight, and they let you leave and reenter. So, my ex at the time and myself went for dinner between games. Tickets were only $10 when I was there at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. After a game is over, the teams are rushed off the field to a large publically open tent behind the home sideline where family, friends, fans, etc can congregate with the players and coaches. Which is a nice thing that many other states have trouble accommodating in a multi-game state championship. The stadium they were at was pretty basic for major college venues. They’ve moved starting next year to Illinois State.

#8 Minnesota

It’s the dome. The price is high. But it’s Minneapolis. But like Iowa, you have semifinals and finals at US Bank Stadium. The two day Prep Bowl has an all-day ticket. And parking is variable depending on which lot and how far you want to walk. The year I was here was the year the old Metrodome had been demolished and US Bank Stadium had yet to be completed. So the finals were at TCF Bank Stadium. An open air venue. My ex and I walked over to the Buffalo Wild Wings between games. In the end, it’s mostly a more expensive Iowa experience.

#9 Mississippi

I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi during covid for their state titles. Six games over two days. The games were relocated from the two alternating college venues due to covid. The size of Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium allowed basically unrestricted access for fans. Tickets were decently priced despite covid. I think in the $12 range. Good for all day. It’s a simple bowl. Weather was acceptable. Games were good. Grass field. Only real negative was the one light standard to the southwest corner was out both days. Which gave the field a bit of a darker corner than you’d expect. But with covid there wasn’t much that could be done. And the stadium did let me bring my camera. Very easy getting in and out of the stadium lots, too.

#10 Georgia

Expensive tickets. At $23 they were the priciest. But you got to stay for 4 games all day. The games were relocated to Georgia State Stadium (formerly Turner Field) from Mercedes-Benz Stadium due to costs. The baseball configuration leaves little to be desired. But the overhang from the upper deck provided relief from the rain on the first day. They also let me leave for my car because I forgot to bring in a memory card for my camera. Parking was expensive. Games were great. Especially if you like field goals. I’m not sure what it is, but Georgia HS Football kicks a lot of field goals. It’s a trend we picked up on the entire weekend. I had previously gone to games at the Georgia Dome, but that was one day for $20 and was only two games. Overall, the cost is the biggest negative here. Both tickets and parking. Games were great. Fans were great. Even in an open air baseball stadium.

#11 Ohio

I’ve seen games at Canton and Massillon when they co-hosted for years. And also the Division II game this year at Tom Benson Stadium. The increased costs really dampen the value you get. The old setup was $56 for your ticket book and $10 parking pass good to move between venues. Now, I paid about $18 for one game and $10 to park. The stadium is nice and I got a good view from the second deck. The scoreboard is weirdly plain for the things like down, distance, etc. The games are spread out over three days. With large gaps between games on Friday and Saturday. All so they can clear the stadium to charge another ticket. Atmosphere is good, for the most part.

#12 Michigan

Can’t put Michigan above Ohio, can I? For PROS, it’s a dome. It was only $10 for tickets. And parking was reasonable for Detroit. The atmosphere ebbed with the matchups. Definitely a fun trip. The CONS are that it is detroit. I damaged my car on Michigan’s unlit roadways since they’re trying to save money. Potholes are no joke. And be aware for missing manhole covers. Thieves like to steal them for scrap metal.

#13 Pennsylvania

I saw so many games at Hershey, that I’ll try to temper my grade based more on this year. The stadium is small, but suitable for the crowds. The parking is free. Tickets were reasonable. In years past, you could get in for $7 for the early game and use your ticket stub to get into the night game. They’ve done away with that a few years ago. Cumberland Valley definitely treats media much better than Hershey did at the end. For the talk of having a video board, not having live video or replays was a disappointment. Overall, a decent middle of the road setup.

#14 New Jersey

Now, to be fair, the New Jersey titles I saw were the Group titles since NJ just started full state wide titles in 2022. But, I did see two South Championships at Rowan and two years worth of North finals at MetLife Stadium. Looking back, I wish I had seen games at College of New Jersey or Kean. or even Rutgers. For what people talk about New Jersey, the crowds were great and tickets were cheap. MetLife was only $9 for tickets. I don’t remember the parking cost. If there even was one. But if it were, it wasn’t sufficiently high enough that I would remember. The love of four-game days for $9 made this a great deal. I may or may not check out the games in the future. The biggest cons are that East Rutherford is a bit troublesome to get to depending where you’re coming from. And from the Turnpike, the special exit lanes to the stadium are closed for the high school games. My ex-wife got lost here. I also witnessed a fight that I recorded with my camera and the police asked for a copy to identify the man who fled. So, that was emorable.

#15 New York

It’s a dome. it’s centrally located. Tickets were reasonable. I want to say it was $10 and parking was fairly cheap in the garage across the street that included a skywalk across the street to the stadium. No walking up all the stairs. Stadium is pretty simple. On most years, games were on Friday and Sunday. Though now there’s a week later and games are on back-to-back days. Football isn’t the greatest. The western teams tend to be more ‘old school’ and slight advantage over the eastern schools. There are some private schools in the New York PUBLIC High School Athletic Association. Crowds are minimal. But it’s an enjoyable, if somewhat average weekend. Having covered it for media, nothing special either. Easy to get into once I knew which gate to enter. They didn’t really inform me well in the instructions and no one at any of the gates seemed to ever hear of a press pass and never asked where they’d enter the stadium at. it’s by the docks. Just as in Fargo.

#16 Nebraska

The games are on Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This gives you the opportunity to see more games than you’d otherwise see. And three games a day over two days is a nice schedule. But, like Ohio, they’re spaced out to clear the stadium betwee games. Tickets were cheap when I was there ($7 a piece). Parking was a struggle as school was in session. Stadium is a concrete bowl. Very little in the way of amenities. Located right downtown with a lot of options to walk to for between game meals. The Thai place was really good. Games were okay. Nothing memorable from the lone year that I was there.

#17 South Dakota

Similar to Nebraska, the games are spread out so that the stadium can be cleared. Tickets were a whopping $15 for session. With most sessions just being one game. The two years I attended, the 9B and 9A games were a doubleheader on Thursday morning in one session. Games are aired over South Dakota Public Broadcasting, so despite being located in the far southeast corner of the state, it’s not a huge impediment. Plus, South Dakotans are used to long drives. The price is an issue, but parking is free. In the lots or the streets around the stadium. There’s a Pizza Ranch across the street. The Dakotadome is small. Only seating about 8,000 the first year I attended and about 9,000 or so the second. Most seats are true seats. Though they have two bleacher sections on the home side. All tickets are assigned seats, but you’re free to relocate to the bleachers and stretch out. The small dome makes for very cramped seating. Other than price it’s my biggest gripe.

#18 Louisiana

Five games in New Orleans. The four private school games (Select) were held the week prior. Some years all 9 would be held on the same weekend. Not this year. Two games on Friday and three on Saturday. Tickets weren’t bad. I think about $10 or $12. Parking was a hassle as the lots are beneat the Superdome. The stadium is small and cramped. The seats are very tiny. Football was good from what I remembered. This was post Katrina. So, the stadium had some touchups. But, it feels ancient. The stadium and getting into and out of it is the biggest issue.

#19 Arkansas

Arkansas is another state with games on multiple weekends. They’re all held at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. But, also spaced out so that a new ticket is required. I stopped on my way home from Texas during Covid. A 1pm game and a 7pm game. So, I only went to the afternoon game in a driving rain. They let me bring a tarp in, and though they questioned the camera (I brought my big lens), they let it in without issue. Tickets were okay, but I remember parking being charged high. Maybe $7? Could have been a covid excuse. The single game I saw was okay. The stadium is just old, the concourse is under the stands.

20 North Carolina

They’ve changed things since I was there. Before, they had 8 titles spread over three venues. The year I attended, it was at Duke, UNC, and NC State. NC State had a tripleheader on Saturday. While Duke and UNC both had Friday night games, and single or doubleheaders on Saturday. So, i went to UNC on Friday night and NC State on Saturday. Primarily due to the rain. Kenan Memorial Stadium had a slight overhang from the top deck to the lower level. Which provided protection from the heavy rain. The grass fell apart just one game into the weekend.

Having to miss state title games to attend others is a big negative for me. The price wasn’t exorbitant. But I remember it wasn’t great either. So, of the eight finals, I attended three of them. The final game at NC State had a long wait for it, and with the rainy conditions and a Browns game on, I elected to leave. Plus, I was driving to Texas for the next weekend.

#21 Maryland

At the time, Maryland was hosting games at M&T Bank Stadium. Four games over three days. All on separate tickets. One Thursday night, one Friday night, and two on Saturday. The parking was high, at $7, and tickets were $10 each. Getting to the game was a nightmare. The Thursday night rush hour extended into the arrival times for those going to the game.

Inside the stadium, it seemed the Ravens did everything possible not to make it enjoyable. No lightboards or videoboards were turned on. Just one little scoreboard on each side to show the score and down and distance. No music, either. They’ve relocated to the Naval Academy. But not sure if they’ve improved since this trip in 2014.

#22 Wisconsin

My biggest complaint about this was that I missed the first game due to their procedures. In the long long ago, the internet wasn’t the greatest at relaying information. And for this game, the address was listed for the parking lot where a shuttle bus would take you to the stadium. Given the parking restrictions, parking at the arena far from town and taking the bus was preferred. I arrived late for the first game and paid for parking. And then, when boarding the shuttle, was informed they had to wait for more people or for the first game to be over before they’d head over. I didn’t know where to go, so I stayed on the busy. The game entered a running clock, when ate the clock and I didn’t arrive until the game was just ending. It’s also just an open bowl with the wind whipping you. It’s four games on Thursday and three on Friday. The tickets were only $8 if you didn’t want to leave and reenter. That was the only positive.

#23 Florida

All of the negatives listed above account for this. The games are spaced so tickets are required for each game. $17.25 if bought in advance. $20.25 if bought the day of the game. Online only. Parking was $23.75. Online only. The stadium is not centrally located. Getting in and out is an exercise in futility. The crowds were smallish for the two games I attended. The game play was poor. Though each was exciting. It was more the lack of execution that kept things close. The weather was miserable. Hot enough to not be cold. But humidity high enough to make it uncomfortable. A rain delay. And not all the games are scheduled for the same weekend. The previous weekend were held in Tallahassee. Just 456 miles away. To see all five games this weekend would’ve cost over $200 between tickets and parking. And it wasn’t good football.

Favorite team by State

As I’ve traveled around the country, I do find towns, and their teams, that I like. For some, it’s obvious. In Pennsylvania it’s my alma mater, Greenville, while in Ohio it’s Steubenville. Where i lived for several years. Others, are adopted. Like CSP in New York. So, I thought of which team, in each state, I would consider my favorite. And I’ll list them geographically, west to east. An asterisk (*) will indicate that I haven’t yet seen this team/school play, but they’re my favorite in lieu of seeing any team in that state.

AK: Utqiagvik Barrow*
HI: none

WA: Brewster*
OR: Myrtle Point*
CA: Jurupa Valley

ID: Arco Butte County*
NV: none

UT: Monticello
AZ: Eagar Round Valley

MT: Grass Range/Winnett#
WY: Moorcroft

CO: Wiggins
NM: Elida
ND: Beach
SD: Mellette Northwestern

NE: Pender
KS: St. Francis

OK: Hooker
TX: Denton Guyer&
MN: Minneota&
IA: Hawarden West Sioux&
MO: Crystal City
AR: Wilson Rivercrest

LA: Monroe Neville&
WI: DeForest
MI: Ishpeming&
IL: Marion

IN: Muncie Delta
KY: Pikeville
TN: Bristol Tennessee
MS: Meridian
AL: Guntersville
GA: Marietta&
FL: Apopka&
OH: Steubenville
WV: St. Marys

NY: Clymer/Sherman/Panama
PA: Greenville
NJ: Weequahic&
MD: Accident Northern Garrett
DE: Middletown&
VA: Waynesboro
NC: Mebane Eastern Alamance
SC: Laurens
VT: U-32*
NH: none

MA: South Hadley
CT: none
RI: none
ME: none

*-Haven’t seen
&-Have seen, but not at home

#5 Photography

Photography has become a big thing for me. Originally starting as a hobby, I’ve gotten into it over the years before starting sideline photography in 2018. And I’ll admit my earlier seasons were a struggle with getting a great shot.

And it’s not just from the equipment. I didn’t upgrade my cameras this year. But, I did have issues with my lenses. My primary is a zoom lens, a 70-200mm F/2.8 Tamron lens. My secondary last season was an 17-50mm F/2.8 for close ups and crowd shots. However, before the season it broke.

Or, I thought it did. When I first tried it in the off season getting prepped for my trip to Georgia, it wasn’t taking photos. It was giving an error. But, when I moved the f-stop to 2.8, it worked. The mechanism inside the lens had broken.

Since I bought this lens, I really disliked the image quality, regardless of the f-stop. And being forced into 2.8 even for large landscape photos on sunny afternoons was almost impossible. Since even 1/4000 was not reaching a -0- for exposure composition.

But I made the most of it. Until I started searching near the end of the season for a replacement. Even though I had a warranty on that lens, I just wanted a new one. And not to wait for the lens to be sent off and mailed back to me after being fixed. My only other option would have been the stock Canon 18-55 F/3.5-5.6 wide angle.

So, I found a deal on a used Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 wide angle. It lacked the zoom to 50mm, so it was definitely for closer captures. However, the quality of the lens was superb. Even at F4. Which was the sweet spot for the lens. I bought it for about $250 when most used ones were selling for almost $500 and brand new ones were selling for $600. It doesn’t have stabilizer. However, for close ups, it just needs a steady hand and at least a 1/200 speed for a great photo. Something the 17-50mm F/2.8 seemed incapable of doing without compression.

I only got to use it for the games at Acrisure Stadium, the Pennsylvania finals. And was my only lens allowed in for the two Florida games at DRV PNK Stadium. So, even if it was only capable of extreme wide angle shots, the photos could be properly cropped without losing a lot of quality.

I’ve considered upgrading. But the 800D equivalents have switched to mirrorless. And I’ve heard varied reports of usability. For instance, the t8i and t7i both use LP-E17 batteries. So, it’s interchangable. And I have about 8 working batteries right now. And most games, for the zoom lens, only uses one battery for the entire game. A second battery may be swapped if it gets low in the 4th quarter to make sure I don’t miss anything. The wide angle then uses another. Using 3 for two cameras for an entire game.

Because a mirrorless does not have way to see through the lens, even the small viewfinder is a LCD screen. Which requires power. So even in standby, the camera is draining a battery. And from what I’ve heard, it goes through many batteries for just a single game. Though I’m sure a lot of them are using screen review for every photo. Something I turned off years ago to keep the battery running longer. I only review photos when I’m certain I’ve gotten something good or am reviewing something in the play. Such as a catch or fumble.

On my flickr page, I am now up to 39,173 total photos, all-time. I’m probably going to reach 40,000 photos after the second weekend of football in 2023.


2022 HSF Wk 0 Georgia
High Steppin’
Parkview at Johns Creek, Johns Creek, GA

2022 HSF Wk 0 Georgia
Riding Coattails
Forsyth Central v. Chattahoochee, Cumming, GA

2022 HSF Wk 0 Georgia
Endzone Pick
Brookwood v. Norcross, Atlanta, GA

2022 HSF Wk 0 Georgia
Pose, And Pose
Mill Creek v. Walton, Atlanta, GA

2022 HSF Wk 1 New Jersey
Ocean City
Mainland v. Egg Harbor Twp, Ocean City, NJ

2022 HSF Wk 1 New Jersey
Ferris Wheel
Ocean City v. Neshaminy, Ocean City, NJ

2022 HSF Wk 1 New Jersey
Is It Good?
Holy Spirit v. Cherokee, Ocean City, NJ

2022 HSF Wk 3 Pennsylvania
Seneca Scores
Seneca at Mercyhurst Prep, Erie, PA

2022 HSF WK 4 New Mexico
JAL Zia Sun Symbol
Jal v. Clovis, Jal, NM

2022 HSF Wk 4 Texas
Eyes Wide Open
Kingdom Prep v. Abilene Christian, Lubbock, TX

2022 HSF Wk 5 South Dakota
Standing Tall
Lincoln Kienholz, Pierre T.F. Riggs at Watertown, Watertown, SD

2022 HSF Wk 6 Ohio
Defensive Stand
Akron North v. Akron Ellet, Akron, OH

2022 HSF Wk 6 Ohio
Golden Hour Touchdown
Brookfield at Newton Falls, Newton Falls, OH

2022 HSF Wk 7 Indiana
Northeastern v. Knightstown, Muncie, IN

2022 HSF Wk 8 South Dakota
Prairie Sidelines
Mellette Northwestern v. Warner, Mellett, SD

2022 HSF Wk 8 North Dakota
Wyndmere/Lidgerwood v. Hatton/Northwood, Wyndmere, ND

2022 HSF Wk 9 Arizona
Fireworks over Arizona
Tolleson Union v. Shadow Ridge, Tolleson, AZ

2022 HSF Wk 9 New Mexico
Roswell Invasion
Roswell at Las Cruces Mayfield, Las Cruces, NM

2022 HSF Wk 9 New Mexico
Elida v. Animas, Elida, NM

2022 HSF Wk 9 New Mexico
Playing The Field
Elida v. Animas, Elida, NM

2022 HSF Wk 9 New Mexico
Zebra Star
Elida v. Animas, Elida, NM

2022 HSF Wk 10 Texas
Top of Texas Football
Follett v. White Deer, Follett, TX

2022 HSF Wk 11 Fargo
By Milimeters
Fertile-Beltrami v. Blackduck, Fargo, ND

2022 HSF Wk 11 Fargo
Creation of Touchdown
Kittson County Central v. Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke, Fargo, ND

2022 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania
Union v. Bishop Canevin, Pittsburgh, PA

2022 HSF Wk 15 West Virginia
Williamstown v. James Monroe, Wheeling, WV

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
Under The Stars
Bishop McDevitt v. Aliquippa, Mechanicsburg, PA

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
Full Extension
Westinghouse v. Southern Columbia, Mechanicsburg, PA

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
Jingle Belle Vernon
Belle Vernon v. Neumann-Goretti, Mechanicsburg, PA

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
Standing Tall
Belle Vernon v. Neumann-Goretti, Mechanicsburg, PA

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
Leaping Leopard
Quentin Martin, Belle Vernon v. Neumann-Goretti, Mechanicsburg, PA

2022 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania
No Room For Error
Belle Vernon v. Neumann-Goretti, Mechanicburg, PA

2022 HSF WK 17 Florida
Sun Sets on the Season
Miami Columbus v. Apopka, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2023 and Beyond

Though schedules are trickling in, I do have some pretty solid plans for next season. After two straight years in Georgia, I am planning to start 2023 in North Dakota.

NDHSAA Class 9B Region 4 is hosting a 5-game event to kickoff the season in Mandan. A small suburb of the capital Bismarck. I’ve seen the new stadium, the Starion Sports Complex, located just off I-94. I don’t know which Friday game I’ll get to. But once the schedules come out I have a few places in mind.

After being home from Week 0’s season opening trip, I hope to return to Ocean City for another three day event on the boardwalk.

I have a few locations around home that I’d like to see. Though I am trying to find a way to Idaho for a game at Butte County in Arco. But, that may have to wait another year if schedules don’t align.

In the playoffs, I’m going to miss Iowa and Minnesota but am planning to be in Vermont for their state finals. And then, the following week planning to be in Wisconsin. From there, it will be the WPIAL Finals in Pittsburgh once again. And the Ohio State Finals in Canton. The Pennsylvania finals back in Mechanicsburg. And finally, returning to Texas for the state finals once again.

Though my plans may change. No matter where I end up, I’m sure I’ll have fun.

2022 Statistics

101 Games
195 Teams
40 Stadiums
16 States

97 New Teams
25 New Stadiums

1,493 different teams
468 different stadiums

1,374 total games

For more, and larger, favorite photos from this season, click HERE.

For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/

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