You’re missing the magic of Friday night lights

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around, does it make a sound? Better yet, if a high school football game is played at Independence Stadium and nobody shows up to watch it, does it even matter? 

I thought about this question a couple of weeks ago while watching Woodlawn and Bossier play. Woodlawn won the game, 34-14, but there weren’t many around to share in the postgame celebration with the Knights.

At kickoff, there were 48 people in the stands on the Woodlawn side. On the Bossier side, 18 was the warm body count. Combined, barely enough to pay the refs. 

Pathetic.

As I stood on the sidelines, I seemed to be the only one turning around to see if there was a late-arriving crowd. Maybe the fans had been tailgating in the parking lot. 

Nope.

Sadly, it didn’t seem to bother the players or coaches, who have grown accustomed to playing in almost-empty stadiums.

That’s not right. And it’s not fair to the kids. 

I have only about 300 words left in this column. Instead of asking rhetorical questions, I would rather use my space to tell you a little bit about Woodlawn quarterback Isaiah Kennedy and head coach Thedrick Harris.

Kennedy is the best quarterback in Caddo-Bossier that you’ve probably never heard of. I feel lucky to have shared a sideline with him at Independence Stadium in the Knights’ loss to Huntington and in their victory over Bossier. 

He was great in the win — threw a couple of touchdown passes — but he won me over with the way he battled in the 50-28 loss to Huntington. 

He is a competitor. A leader. And he is an incredible athlete. A cross between the Energizer Bunny and Houdini — able to escape the most impossible situations, and able to take a licking and keep on ticking.

If you love high school football, he is one of those athletes you want your friends to see in action, but Father Time waits for no man – or high school quarterback.  He will play in his final regular-season high school game this Friday when Woodlawn hosts Minden.

But’s it not all about Kennedy and his teammates. There is a very talented band. And a hard-working cheer squad. They work as hard and are equally deserving of the kind of atmosphere you find at a Byrd vs. Shreve Backyard Brawl. 

Harris is the second-year head coach at Woodlawn. He has been sowing seeds into the lives of young men for over 20 years, after he graduated from Louisiana Tech, where he starred for the Bulldogs as a defensive lineman.

You need someone to talk to you about overcoming adversity? Coach Harris is your guy.

Coming into this season, Harris lost his father. How did he cope with the heartbreaking loss? By continuing to teach his players the same life lessons his father taught him.

What’s it going to take for people to show up under the Friday night lights and support these student athletes and coaches? Will it have to be a winning record?

It’s true. Everybody loves a winner.

The legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote, “When the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he marks, not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

There are many high school athletes and coaches in Caddo and Bossier who are holding up their end of the bargain. There just aren’t enough people in the stands to support their efforts. 

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com