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Savor your football game this weekend

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Another season of high school football previews with Michael Boytim and Scott Franco of the Mirror is now on the Mirror Channel on You Tube. Check it out today.

The day thousands of athletes across the area have been waiting for all summer has finally arrived, and while the circumstances certainly aren’t perfect, it’s important for everyone involved to appreciate what we do have.

We have high school football. Soon, we’ll have scholastic soccer, cross country and girls volleyball. Our paper has already been running high school golf and girls tennis roundups for the past two weeks.

For months, I have had to write about negative things like events being canceled, hard-to-follow protocols to return to play or parents not being allowed to watch their children play.

This isn’t the day for any of that negativity. Please remember that tonight, too.

For the first time in what seems like forever, there are plenty of intriguing matchups being played on a field, not debates in a Zoom meeting or in a government building.

Bellwood-Antis and Northern Bedford will meet in a game that could end up deciding the Inter-County Conference title.

Bedford is hoping to finally get over the hump against rival Chestnut Ridge in a huge Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference game that was decided by a fingertip deflection a year ago.

Saturday, two potential District 6 champions will meet at Mansion Park when Richland visits Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic.

While those might be the marquee games, there are plenty of others that offer plenty of intrigue.

Central travels to Bald Eagle Area where the young Scarlet Dragons are another year older after almost knocking off the eventual PIAA semifinalist Eagles in the District 6 Class 3A semifinals last year.

Hollidaysburg will host Baldwin in the first of many unique matchups the Golden Tigers will play this year after completely reshuffling their schedule, and how will a healthier Tyrone team fare against a Bellefonte team that must replace all-everything C.J. Funk?

It’s much more fun to think about these games and how they might play out than think about the fragility of the entire season.

One thing that stood out in speaking to area coaches prior to the season is that everyone understands it is possible tonight’s game could be the last game they play this year. It could be the final football game some of the area’s seniors get to experience.

The fact that one positive test for COVID-19 can shut down an entire team, or conference for that matter, is a harsh reality. The world is in a different place right now than it was just a year ago, and it’s horrible that some of the players won’t have their families at the games, but at least they are getting the chance to start the season — something none of us were sure would happen even a month ago.

Things won’t be the same under the lights tonight, but we have to do our best to make sure those lights stay on. Personally, I’ll be following whatever protocols are asked of me by any school district I visit. I can speak for everyone in the Altoona Mirror sports department when I say that we all love high school sports, and we want to see them take place and continue.

I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell anyone else how they should feel or act when they are deciding how to go about attending or not attending games this fall, but just keep in mind who it all means the most to — the student athletes — and let’s do whatever is in their best interest if at all possible.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael

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