It was different, a special different. But, and you might have heard this line from actual athletes before, once I got through warmups, I was fine.
Indiana’s Class 4A state final between East Noble and Evansville Memorial Saturday afternoon was the first high school football state championship game I have ever covered, and I have been a sports journalist for a little more than two decades. It was a thrill.
I was behind the scenes at Lucas Oil Stadium. I was the modern journalist combination of the special teams specialist, holder and defensive lineman who is suppose to occupy offensive linemen in order to allow linebackers to run free and make plays. I was the information provider on the KPC News Facebook page with video clips and game updates, typed up the lengthy box score, and did a lot of little things if necessary, like being the middle man between the game site and home base, or seeing things develop on site that others are not seeing in the midst of thoroughly doing their jobs.
There was some nervous anticipation and a need to get a lay of the land prior to stepping on a professional football field. Knowing where I can go and having room to work was comforting. After digging into the turf (and getting roughly two dozen rubber pellets on my knuckles after getting out of my seated position), I started being productive when I took video clips of the Knights in their pregame drills. That was when I really settled in.
It was not perfect. I was thrown off by Facebook Live not allowing me to take wide shots that are better shots, but I think they went through. However, they appeared sideways on the page.
I have had a phone capable of taking decent videos for a few months. It was my first crack at it since my first attempt at video covering Angola boys basketball team winning the 2016 Class 3A New Haven Sectional.
I have more to learn, but much more good than bad came from this effort. The response from the viewers of the KPC News page was highly positive.
Much more good than bad, just like the East Noble football season.
Winning a sectional is a major step in itself and can have a way of relieving pressure and calming nerves. Then the Knights took off and were poised to handle about everything they faced. You can’t let one rough second half take away from a incredible season.
Besides having something special in No. 1 Bailey Parker, East Noble had a defense elevate to a higher level to put the team in a position to play for a state championship. Oh, those adjustments defensive coordinator Ryan Robertson and company made after halftime.
I enjoyed the atmosphere created by the East Noble faithful at Lucas Oil Saturday. Enjoyed meeting a couple of Knight football alums before the game during a get-together at the Slippery Noodle Inn that was organized by former EN football coach and teacher Mark Cockroft. The tips of the cap from neighboring communities leading up to and during the big game on social media were nice touches, too.
Congratulations, gridiron Knights for making a tremendous journey. It uplifted the community to new levels and showed local youngsters how real it is for a bunch of small-town boys to achieve great things.