Off The Record: Will 'Title Town' become 'Boring Burg'?

December 08, 2003|HERB BROCK

Ever since I moved to Danville nearly a quarter of a century ago I have been amazed at the football fervor of this community. Even then, when Boyle County's squad was considered only a step above an intramural flag football program and tradition-rich Danville actually was struggling, I could tell pigskin held a powerful hold on folks here.

And, of course, the fervor has reached a fever pitch since then as the Admirals have gone on to win nine state championships to bring its total to 10 and Boyle has joined its crosstown rival as a powerhouse, reeling off an unprecedented five state titles. Both teams added shiny new trophies over the weekend. Trophy case expansion should be appearing soon on the agendas of the respective school boards.

But I have to wonder if all this winning by both teams is becoming routine even for the football-loving folks of this town.


Boyle fans were the high school equivalent of the long-suffering fans of the University of Kentucky and, so, the last few years have had to be heaven for them. But the years of Boyle being a doormat and not the welcome mat to what some pigskin pundits consider to be the premier football program in the state now seem like ancient history. Boyle hasn't just been winning. It has been decimating opponents. Will the yells start turning into yawns?

Same for Danville. Most Danville fans are proud of the Admirals' long tradition but they also have experienced a few lean years, like the aforementioned late 1970s and early 1980s. But the few non-trophy-winning years also may seem like they are so far in the distance they can't even be seen in the rearview mirror of the title-collecting tank that has rumbled across the state's football landscape since the mid 1980s. Winning isn't everything at Danville. It's been the only thing. Will the zeal start turning into zzzzzz's?

Will Titletown become Boring Burg?

Before I give my response to that question, here's a little background on the fellow posing it. I grew up in a football-loving family and lived in football-crazy parts of the country but I didn't share in either the love or the craziness. It's not that I was one of those pointy-headed kids who put academics ahead of sports. It's just that I wasn't a very good player, as were my two older brothers, and I didn't share the enthusiasm for the sport they or our dad - "coach Lou" - had.

For example, take dad/coach's off-seasoning conditioning program. I didn't.

While my brothers were sweating themselves into shape every summer, I was, as my dad/coach would say, "dogging it." When we ran, my brothers dutifully sprinted on their charted courses around the neighorhood and returned home a half hour later, perspiration pouring from their tired bodies. In the meantime, I sprinted to a friend's house around the block. After watching as much as I could of a TV show, I'd douse myself in water and run back home, fake sweat pouring from my body. I huffed and puffed to complete the act.

Dad had purchased some barbells for us to use during the winter months. He placed them in the basement. As was the case with the running, we were on the honor system, and, as was the case with the running, I was a dishonorable participant in dad's weight-lifting class. My brothers dutifully lifted the weights every day. I did as well - or made it sound like I was. I would grunt and groan as loud as I could - and kick the barbells around the basement floor as hard as I could. My weightlifting was nothing but a noisy charade.

But my mask always was removed, like the time I had transferred to a new high school. The coach there was drooling over me, but he only knew the stats I had put on my information sheet and had never seen me. He read that I was 5 feet 11 inches, 190 pounds and assumed I was a solid-as-a-rock noseguard. I was a chubby-as-a-Checker noseguard, and noseguard referred to my position in the field as well as on it. After almost every play, my nose was buried deep into the turf as I was pancaked to the ground.

That same coach, who was forced to play me because there were players on the team actually worse than me, not only had to deal with my lack of conditioning but also my lack of interest.

At the halftime of one game, we were losing, as usual, by a lopsided score. Coach used a chapter from the old Reverse Psychology Handbook for Desperate Coaches to try to fire us up for the second half. After kicking chairs and throwing chalk and failing to delete a single expletive, he screamed for a show of hands of the guys who did not want to play the second half. He almost swallowed his whistle in stunned silence when he saw nearly half of us raise our hands. Guess who had his hand up the highest?

With this background of someone who grew up in a home where football was king but who was perfectly comfortable being a court jester in that kingdom, I came to this community hearly 25 years ago and have witnessed a dedication and determination of football teams and a love and loyalty of football fans that have been unmatched anywhere I lived.

And I believe there is such a deep reservoir of dedication and determination on the part of coaches and players and love and loyalty on the part of fans - attributes which I simultaneously understand but can't identify with - to keep Titletown from becoming Boring Burg.

But if and when the time comes that our community does become Boring Burg, I believe I'd make an excellent candidate for mayor. There would be no ballots. Just a show of hands.

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