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Back to school means more traffic

Since moving to Ironton, I have realized a few things, but none as obvious as the observance of seasons of Lawrence County.

Here, we have four seasons: winter, spring, summer and football. The latter is finally upon us.

From late August until November, communities in Lawrence County are painted in their school colors, showing support of their gridiron warriors. On Friday night, the stands are packed with cheering fans, music from the marching bands fills the air and cheerleaders enthusiastically root their team on to victory. For the hundreds of players rushing out on the field on Friday night, it is what they've waited for all week.

No offense to all of the other sports, but football holds a special place on the prep scene in Lawrence County. At the high school level, football is the pinnacle. It is still the king.

It could be argued that Ohio is a football state in general, but we have a mystique about us in Lawrence County that separates us from the masses.

I grew up in Ross County, and we love our football there as well. The communities there back their schools, too, but it just seems like folks are a little more passionate about the sport here.

Perhaps it's the tradition. Even when I suited up for the Adena Warriors some 13 years ago, we knew about the powerhouses in Lawrence County, namely Ironton and Coal Grove. Even though we never played against either school, we knew about them. Why? Because they were winning programs, consistently ranked in the state and, well, as I said before, they were schools with tradition.

Part of this tradition is due to the character of the young men who play football for our county schools and the men who coach them. Whether these guys know it or not, they are ambassadors for our county. Let's face it, every time they step foot on the field of a school in another county or state, they represent our people. Folks from those areas are likely to judge Lawrence County by the young men who represent it on the football field.

As ambassadors for our county, these young men should always carry themselves as gentlemen. Football is an aggressive game, and tempers do flare every now and then. Those with the cooler head, though, always prevail.

Maybe that is why the football programs in Lawrence County are so successful. From a young age, these young men have been trained to be winners -- both on and off the field. Sure,

a few will slip up along the way, but for the most part, all of our county schools put a group of fine young men on the field.

In addition, these young men are role models. Look at the youth football leagues in our county. From the time they are in second grade, these boys go to the games Friday night, wearing their jerseys and dreaming of the day they have the opportunity to be a part of the high school football team.

The very same guys who will barrel out of the locker room tonight were once in their shoes. Tonight, they will be living that dream -- some for the first time.

I know when all seven of our county teams step on the field tonight, we can be proud to say that these young men are from Lawrence County. I wish all of our football teams -- and other sports teams -- the best of luck this season.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com.