Reliving Friday Night Lights

It has been decades since Colville High alumni (and a few friends) strapped on the helmets and laced on the pads for a little high school football déjà vu. But with the encouragement of CHS grad Cole Weatherman and support from the Colville School District administration, a Colville vs. Chewelah alumni football game was resurrected—and played—last Friday night at CHS. No, it almost didn’t happen. There was a point last week when Weatherman thought the game was going to have to be cancelled. Practice sessions were more often than not non-existent, but the game came off and it’s a good bet that most of the players who took time out of their Fourth of July weekend schedules would like to do it again next summer. Practice—what practice? Show up at the CHS field and play was the mantra. Practice—we don’t need no stinkin’ practice. The score was almost a moot point. This was a chance for CHS and Chewelah alums to relive those Friday Night Lights of years past—hit somebody and hopefully not get hurt, at least not so badly that the required ambulance sitting just beyond the south end zone would actually have to move. It was the chance to ratchet up the competitive levels one more time, in the name of a good cause…feel young again (until the next morning) and play some real, live football again…against an old rival. The crowd was sparse, but money raised from the game went to the respective football programs at each school. Indians’ alums, behind the arm of 2009 grad Paul Swanson and a stout defense, blanked Chewelah 12-0. Swanson hooked up with receiver Shane Brady on an 80-yard pass and run in the first half and on a pass and run to Brady of about half that distance in the second half (no, there were no official or unofficial statistics kept on this one). The Colville alums, with a roster that seemed to be a little shorter in the tooth, played solidly on the defensive side of the ball. Former CHS standout Austin Pete (CHS 2010) was Colville’s defensive coordinator. Pete’s work with the Colville alumni defense on short notice impressed Weatherman. “The defense did a good job,” Weatherman said. “Austin (Pete) did a good job with them…he knows his stuff. I think he has a future in coaching.” Is there enough interest for a return match-up? Whether the game is resurrected for a second annual effort is anybody’s guess. Weatherman says he did what he could to help resurrect the fund-raiser. If the game returns next summer, the organizational aspect is going to have to be assumed by somebody else. “I don’t think I’ll do it next year,” Weatherman said after it was all over. “The kids (Colville alums) and a lot of the Chewelah players said they’d like to do it again,” Weatherman said. “But it’s up to them.” Weatherman, who played in a few alumni games for Colville many years ago, admitted that “there is a lot of hassle involved with putting it on.” It helps to have the support of football coaching staffs and athletic directors for an undertaking like alumni football. For one reason or another, that support hasn’t always been forthcoming. In years past, Kettle Falls and Inchelium have made alumni football work. There is no reason to believe that Colville and Chewelah alumni football, with a little more planning and organization (and a different date), and support from the two schools and school districts, couldn’t fill the stands and boost the coffers of the respective schools’ football programs. “I’d like to see it come back,” Weatherman said. “It was nice to be able to pull it off.” Weatherman admitted that holding the game on the leading edge of the long Fourth of July weekend wasn’t the best plan. But Weatherman enjoyed the experience, along with the vast majority of other grads from CHS, Chewelah, Kettle Falls, etc. who took the time out of their schedules to play full contact football again. Was that Icy Hot I smelled along the Colville bench? Watching Colville and Chewelah alums who loved their high school football and that weekly testosterone rush get after it again with the aid of copious amounts of anti-inflammatory medication and analgesic balm…maybe even Icy Hot by the gallon…was a very good thing. While there was a concussion or two and a shoulder injury, by and large, serious injuries seemed to be avoided last Friday night. That was also a very good thing. I hope Chewelah vs. Colville II returns next summer. The Colville roster included Brandon Hastings (2010), Jeff Wall (2010), Zach Hull (2011), Tyler Newman (1998), Trevor Zyskowski (Kettle Falls, 2010), James Price (2011), Paul Swanson (2009), Colby Teibel, (2011), John Fowler (2009), Brandon Nielsen (1996), Ben Newman (1992), Bill Warner (1998), Andrew Walsh (2010), Kurt Day (2007), Dylan Timmons (2010), Tom Baun (1995), Cruze Thompson (2010), Joey Medlen (2010), Ian Nelson (2010), Dylan Chester (1996), Shane Brady (2010).