On Friday night, my wife, Kathy, asked me a simple question (She has to keep her questions simple because otherwise I don’t understand them).
She said ‘You are going to the game tonight. You aren’t working. And it’s on television. Why?’
Because when Brookfield Central and Brookfield East square off in the third round of the football playoffs – you just have to be there.
If you like high school football – and there seemed to be a lot of people there who did – Brookfield Central was the place to be Friday night.
I arrived an hour early – tickets went on sale at the gate at 5:45 p.m. – and the parking lot was starting to fill up.
By game time both bleachers were packed, people were lined up 2-3 deep by the fences and the temporary bleachers put in on the south side were filled.
Now you add the unsung heroes like the cheerleaders, the dance teams and the marching band and at this level, it doesn’t get better than that.
(Speaking of marching bands, I struggled with the trumpet when I was in grade school and the thought of playing an instrument and marching at the same time is something I can’t deal with.)
My trusted son-in-law, Big Jon Moore, was also on hand. I like to think we’re like the Lone Ranger & Tonto or Batman & Robin, but some people think we’re more like Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello or Martin & Lewis.
That hour pre-game goes by quickly, as we peruse the sidelines and talk to everyone who will listen.
Bob Brainerd was on hand doing television and Dan Pfeifer was on hand to do radio, as well as Todd Hansen, Pewaukee girls basketball coach, who writes for the Waukesha Freeman. Todd Rosiak, took off his Brewers gear, to come out and cover the game for the Journal Sentinel preps side and join us little people.
And, of course, my successor at the Brookfield NOW, the young, talented male model known as Andrew Gruman was also on hand.
It’s amazing how the sidelines always fills up with former players out to watch the big game from the sidelines. I had a conversation with recent Lancer Hall of Fame member Steve Johnson, who looks like he can still play linebacker.
There were several other players on hand – but I didn’t recognize most of them without a uniform number and lack of memory.
Central coach Joel Nellis, one of my Twitter buddies, came over to greet me, and one of my favorite people basketball coach Dan Wandrey was on hand. One of the things I like about covering basketball is it’s inside and I have a place to sit, so I’m looking forward to the winter prep season.
I also look forward to seeing BC boys track coach Steve Kracht, one of the nicest people I have ever met, on the sidelines. If you don’t like coach Steve, then there is something wrong with you.
One thing I detested when I covered Brookfield was being accused of playing favorites because I am a Central grad. First of all, as a journalist, that was an insult to my integrity, which I feel is one of the most important qualities that a person can have. And I don’t have a lot of abilities, but one thing I do have is that.
Many people who accused me of that had no idea I had four kids who attended East and all four played athletics at some level.
One time East principal Andy Farley, a Spartan graduate, had a parent complaining to him about me being a Central grad. Farley asked the parent if he was aware that he and my son, Marty, played on the same Spartan defense together. My son, Scott, also played against East coach Ben Farley in the little league baseball program.
Before the game I went over to wish Ben Farley good luck. He thank me and laughed and said, “Come and stand on our sideline.” I told him I wasn’t working tonight and being a Lancer, this was a side I belonged on. But Big Jon Moore went over to the East side in the second half to represent us – there was more room he claimed. Believe me, even today my kids and I have some strong conversations about East vs. Central.
Bottom line is I’m a Lancer graduate, but I like both teams. I have gotten to know many coaches and teachers from both schools over the years and for that I am blessed. When I covered the games I have seen some great battles. What I didn’t like was I knew someone was going to lose afterward.
Coach Jed Kennedy has done a good job since he took over the football program, winning the Greater Metro Conference last year and sharing the title this season.
But what I admire most about Jed is how much he cares about the kids who aren’t football players. Many times you will find him, his lovely wife, Melissa and two beautiful girls, Makenna and Shaelyn, at other athletic events, cheering on the other student-athletes.
After working with professional athletes a good portion of my life – and I worked with some good people – I will take covering the preps anytime. Like I said, I’ve been blessed.
By the way, Brookfield East won, 21-0, behind three touchdowns by Sam Santiago-Lloyd.
See my feature on Sam at http://preps2pros.net/2016/11/03/easts-sam-santiago-lloyd-tough-dude-on-field-good-guy-off/.