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Looking ahead to fall football’s return

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David Rocha Photo The Roswell Coyotes come together during practice in preparation for the 2021 season.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

“Each fall a reminder of football’s lasting appeal.” That was the headline atop a column the Roswell Daily Record published in 2018. “Each fall.” Until 2020, that was true.

Fall seasons of high school football were a constant, their highlights contributing to the memories of individuals, families, communities. Big games, memorable plays, great athletes. “When a football is kicked off in front of a crowd in this country, there’s an electricity in the air.” That charge has helped sear many a moment into the shared memories of towns all around America.

Something learned a long time ago: In some places, if you’re driving toward a small town on a Friday night and your destination is the football stadium — to watch a game or, where a few of us are concerned, maybe to cover it from the sidelines or a press box — you often don’t need a GPS or to know the address. For a roughly three-hour window that evening it will be the brightest spot in the community, easily seen from a distance, easy to locate.

But among the many customs, longstanding events and traditions altered or canceled outright during the pandemic year of 2020, a season of fall football was lost in New Mexico and in other places. Stadiums sat silent and dark.

Gradually this year we’ve seen the return of many local customs and traditions. In Roswell, for instance, the UFO Festival took place in July, drawing solid crowds. Other signature events are planning similar comebacks. Our lives are becoming a better mix of the things we want to do and the things we have to do, the ratio’s improving. Now we’re poised at the beginning of a new football season, a comeback season.

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The short seasons sports teams were allowed in the spring were welcome after the long, pandemic-created layoff that preceded them, and important for the senior athletes who otherwise couldn’t have taken the field, the court, the diamond during their last year of high school.

But as the Daily Record has been working on its annual football preview, catching up to coaches, asking how they see their teams shaping up in 2021, one constant has been their eagerness for a full fall season with a tournament at the end to determine a champion. That’s what the best teams play for and we have some of the best in the state right here.

It’s been too long. Each fall in memory, until last fall, had indeed been a reminder of football’s lasting appeal, just like that old column said. Its appeal hasn’t waned.

Who knows what “normal” means anymore or what it’ll represent moving forward. Maybe the word’s lost some meaning and should be scrapped for a while.

But it’s hard to imagine Roswell feeling like Roswell, completely, until the Wool Bowl is again the place to be on Friday nights in the fall. Same can be said about Chaves County’s other communities. And as the teams suiting up for practice in these final weeks of summer remind us, we’re very close, only a couple of weeks away.

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