The Sertoma Football Classic is the Lowcountry in a boiled peanut nutshell. Nothing else comes close.
Not the Cooper River Bridge Run or James Island politics or shrimp season.
High school football starts tonight with the 40th annual kickoff, seven quarters of action followed by seven more Friday night. For the same $12 admission you get bands, another encore performance by legendary Summerville head coach John McKissick, cheerleaders and contrasting school colors, a mosaic in motion over the stands at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium.
Don't you just love this Adequate Year Progress thing they use at schools across this great country of ours? It is part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. AYP is such a cool concept it should be applied to all phases of life.
That so-called yard of yours.
Certainly to high school football. Which is why this first glimpse at 28 teams is so anticipated. You get to see which squads are making progress and which ones need physical or schematic assistance real soon.
A back-to-school bookbag full of fun is all but guaranteed, if it doesn't rain real hard.
Social studies? Take notes on subtle style changes, bold trends and fascinating culture clashes.
Science? Yes, blinded by science.
All kinds of science. Like how exactly does that hairstyle defy the laws of physics as taught in Advanced Placement classes?
Math? You pick: More points scored by winning teams or more trombones? For any given night the over/under is 76.
Language arts? Who do you like in a texting contest between Stratford and Bishop England?
Dave Spurlock, the Charleston County School District official in charge of athletics, has seen our primary football jamboree from three unique angles: a participating player at North Charleston High School, a coach at St. Andrew's and Garrett high schools, and a school district official who works with the Sertoma Club to help make this event work.
"It's very communal," Spurlock said. "I get together with people I've played against or coached against back in the day. And then to see the young coaches come along who are so sharp and so bright, it's great to see them have such a great impact on football in South Carolina."
Spurlock knows coaches, as much as players, have butterflies fluttering around their digestive systems.
"It's on such a large scale. Not only are your fans there but all the other people," Spurlock said. "At first blush, you want to impress your fans and also other coaches and other teams and other fans. Hopefully, it sort of gets your season off to a good start."
Anyone with a Sertoma stake has tweak ideas.
For instance, I want halftime water balloon fighting contests and perhaps one marquee matchup per night bumped up to an earlier kickoff slot. Maybe you want teams to play for two quarters instead of one, or a few more teams from outside the area.
Spurlock said scheduling demands include accommodating schools that have actual regular season games on Friday night or Saturday night.
"We have to fit them into our Thursday night quarters," Spurlock said.
But with plenty of parking, a nice facility and Adequate Yearly Progress at the concession stands, no Sertoma fan is left behind.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 937-5593.