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Prep football: Redskins enter a little differently

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Standing on the sideline opening night at Redskins Stadium in Hurricane, a group of media members that included myself went through the gamut of reactionary emotions prior to game time.

First, there was half-hearted confusion. Prior to the Redskins' entrance to the field a mock announcement from the Emergency Broadcast System blared over the public address system before Hurricane played Huntington. The announcement proclaimed that a Hurricane warning was in effect, that damage was unavoidable and so forth.

There was an issue with this. "Hurricane" was pronounced the way it is in almost every nook of the United States outside the Kanawha Valley. This led to a little good-natured joking among us writers and television personnel, who of course are wordsmiths by nature and prone to laughing about these kinds of things.

It passed quickly enough. Soon after, the opening drum-and-guitar combo from Metallica's classic, "Enter Sandman" took the announcement's place. This, honestly, brought about a little groaning from us on the sideline.

We've heard this before. It's used an awful lot for sports "walk-ins", everywhere from Virginia Tech football to Major League Baseball, where New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera has used it as his entrance music for the better part of two decades.

One of these days, someone's going to abandon Metallica and - even more hopefully - all the "I'm good! You're not!"-brand of hip-hop braggadocio that has soaked that genre in the last decade, and take up some more interesting options for firing up crowds and players alike.

Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" is a step in the right direction, but if anybody's taking notes, might I suggest Wilco's "Art of Almost", or The Black Keys' "10 A.M. Automatic" from 2004's Rubber Factory album.

While I was digressing - on the sideline as well as again in the office a couple days after the fact - something snuck up on me, and it wiped out all the questions I had about the Redskins' season debut appearance for their fans.

There was a roar from the crowd while I had my back turned Friday, and when I turned to see what the hubbub was about, I noticed something I'd never seen before: the Redskins - whose field house is located atop a small hill that sits above the playing surface at their stadium - had entered the home bleachers from the top and were making their way to the field through the rows of fans.

They descended the bleachers in two columns, turned left and made their way to the field level, where they ran to midfield and proceeded to return to standard form with a huddle in which players were jumping all over each other.

It was, without question, the most unique thing I've ever seen in terms of high school sports team entrances, and it was remarkably simple.

I've seen teams use smoke machines, lasers and even fireworks. I've heard music of just about every sort at varying volumes and to the point it was so loud I didn't want to keep my eyes open to watch what going on.

This was actually special.

A high school football team is actually a product of its community, more so than at any organized level. College football sees recruits move to campus from all over the country to play. Professional football sees players drafted or signed from other organizations and often live in their city of work only during the season.

Therefore, a prep football team has more in common with the people in the stands that at any level of any consequence. We can split hairs about pee-wee football or even middle school ball, but it can be argued that what many of the players at that level are being geared for is to wear the jersey of their local team on Friday nights.

That is what could be seen when players like Austin Hensley, Zach Pate, Jon Francis and Alex Wolford descended those stands and made their way to the field for the first game of their senior seasons, what ended in a 23-8 loss to visiting Huntington. It was clearly visible that these young men are a product of their community.

They were there among them right up until the moment before kickoff. The students in the stands patted their schoolmates on their shoulder pads as they passed. Parents hurriedly snapped pictures as their sons walked by, often oblivious to their family's presence as they prepared to engage in a violent game below, and as this developed, a sense was clear that the community was offering its best and brightest up as warriors in competition against another community.

It was the very essence of high school sports personified, and suddenly Metallica didn't seem so bothersome.

After all, I bought that album in 1991, when I was still a teenager.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.


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