Photos from 2021 (January through December)

Sykotyk

Well-known member
Went to 157 total high school football games from January 1st through December 18th. Here's my year in photos.


1/1/21 - Texas 5A and 6A was delayed by a month. Finishing up in January. First up, was Mansfield Summit and their Pancake Block stickers for linemen.


1/2/21 - Euless Trinity v. Southlake Carroll, featuring Quinn Ewers


Cedar Hill with the game winning catch against Rockwall-Heath





The 1AD2 Championship game from December was postponed due to Covid and relocated to San Angelo Stadium in West Texas. First time there. Great matchup between Balmorhea and Richland Springs.


1/16/21 - The finish of the remaining four Texas State Championships. Not the best games. They were all one-sided. But another fall season ending at AT&T Stadium was familiar.


2/26/21 - First game in February. Waynesboro (VA) v. Wilson Memorial (VA). In a snowstorm that wasn't on the forecast. Freezing cold. But football in February was worth it.


2/27/21 - Was an impromptu doubleheader at the Stone Castle in Bristol, Tennessee. The two Virginia games were relocated due to heavy rains associated with the snow in the western mountains of Virginia just a bit further north. Virginia v. Grundy in Game 1, and Abingdon v. Gate City for the second game. Which was the original plan before the game got relocated from Abingdon's grass field.
 

Sykotyk

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3/6/21 - My Saturday was a single game at Hurley, Virginia. And one of the most impressive stadium locations you'll find. Cut into the mountain behind the high school. Smiley Ratliff Field has 'The Cliff' and it dominates the opposite side of the field from the stands. The afternoon game with early March ice hanging from the rock just made it even more impressive.


3/19/21 - Pennsylvania had several southeastern schools hold off until spring to play. Including the Philadelphia Public League. First game in Philadelphia was a bit of a culture shock. Without crowds, many of the games were held at the small fields at the schools themselves instead of the city's 'Supersites' that host most of the games in normal years. First up was George Washington's Mickey Young Memorial Stadium that lacked bathrooms and lockerrooms. And the field was sprinkled with goose poop everywhere. But it was interesting nonetheless. They hosted "Vaux Big Picture", a public charter school in the city that had just started football on their own.


3/20/21 - At the South Side Supersite's Bok Field, Neumann-Goretti and West Catholic squared off in the shadow of I-76 and Citizens Bank Ballpark. The lack of crowd is still an oddity. Even in the spring.




3/27/21 - The small fields include West Philadelphia's Pollock Field. A chainlink enclosed patch of grass in the heart of the West Philadelphia neighborhood. The 'crowd' consisted of fans standing around the fences watching the game as best they could. Before the game, there was talk that Boys Latin Charter, another public charter, wasn't going to play and that Simon Gratz would fill in instead. Then word that Boys Latin Charter was going to play. So, it was a bit of a mystery which team would be there, if there even would be one, at kickoff.




4/1/21 - First April game I attended was in New York State. Salamanca hosted Maple Grove in an intense snowstorm that dissipated after halftime. Salamanca won easily. But freezing my *** off at the game was still memorable.
 

Sykotyk

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4/3/21 - CSP is a co-op of three southwestern New York schools: Clymer, Sherman, and Panama. All three would be equal to D7 in Ohio by themselves. But, combined formed a Class C school in NY (second smallest classification). Their opponent cancelled last minute, but Springville Griffith stepped up to play the defending state champions. SGI is not a great team, but this is a team that doesn't know how to quit. Or back down from a challenge. CSP's Owen Gratto celebrated the first TD of the spring season on a pick six.




4/9/21 - Next week was back in Philly. Did I mention some of the fields were... in disrepair? Roxborough Stadium must've been great way back when. However, games are few and far between at this field that lacks even a working scoreboard. And grass. And a pressbox. It's just a field and old block construction stands on one side. The grass, or lack thereof, is the most striking visual. Also, that catch at the 9 yard line where the receiver was beheaded? Yeah, that went for a touchdown. Hard to explain how the receiver did not go down on that hit.


4/9/21 - Night game was the John Bartram Braves edging past Simon Gratz. This was probably the worst neighborhood hosting a game in Philly I was at. A large police presence inside and outside the fences.



4/10/21 - Chester Clippers, proudly off Exit 6 of I-95, was hosting Academy Park at their unlit field. Great venue. Not a horrible neighborhood despite the town of Chester getting a bad reputation. The view of the Commodore Barry Bridge was nice.




4/16/21 - City schools can have some great backdrops. Central High School is located betweeen La Salle University's football stadium and the old stadium at Widener Memorial School. Which is where Central does play some of their games. It's a very small venue, with just a few rows of seats sandwiched between the sideline and the street.


4/17/21 - Back to action shots. Frankford Pioneers play at one of the best stadiums in Philadelphia. It's an athletic field that's surrounded by concrete stands and walls on all four sides. Condensed more into a square, the corners of the endzones are onto the old cinder track. Here, though, is an uncalled facemask penalty by Boys Latin Charter.


4/23/21 - The Philadelphia season drew to a close. But western NY was still going. So, a game just north of Niagara Falls between Lewiston-Porter in Youngstown, New York against Iroquois. Including the headless defender.



4/24/21 - Back at Panama for a CSP game. This one against Cassadaga Valley/Falconer. Easy win for the defending champs.




4/30/21 - Another trip to Salamanca. Again with some snow at the end of the game. Interesting fact about Salamanca is they're the only city in the US located entirely on an Indian Reservation. The Onöndowa’ga’ (Seneca) Nation lands include the city. A rarity where usually the chartered city is carved out of the reservation. A large percentage of the students are native, as well. And they're very proud to be the Salamanca Warriors. The $16 million renovation to Veterans Memorial Park was shared by the school district, city, and Seneca Nation.

 

Sykotyk

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5/1/21 - First game for me in May. CSP hosting Fredonia at Brosius Field in Sherman. Interesting that Sherman does not have any stands at their field. The three schools share hosting duties and the games rotate between the three schools. Sherman has a hillside along the road behind the north sideline. And that's the primary means to watch the game. And the houses whose back yards border the park and has a view of the field. To get to it safely, there's a tunnel from the school to the field. Which makes for an interesting entrance for the team.



5/5/21 - Rare Wednesday game. NY has a 10 game season with three rounds of playoffs in regular years. The last 3 weeks are traditionally cut off and used for sectional playoffs (think Ohio Regions). With the spring schedule, the plan was to just end the season at the end of the sectional playoffs. Which allows schools to keep playing consolation games if they choose. This was one of the only ones this year. And they're traditionally played on days not to conflict with any playoff games. So, Wednesday night football. On the smurf turf at Alden great facility east of Buffalo. Between Lackawanna and Akron.





5/8/21 - NYSPHSAA Section 6 Class C Semifinal - Back to Clymer for another CSP game. Hosting Southwestern from nearby suburban Jamestown. Clymer is the definition of a small town. Only a blinker at the center of town. Southwestern would go on to win, 24-21. But it was a great May afternoon.




5/9/21 - Mother's Day - Rarely will the opportunity to see a high school football game on Mothers' Day. Due to covid protocols the game was moved back to Sunday night to give the team enough time to play this NYSPHSAA Section 6 Class D Semifinal between host Portville and Salamanca. And it snowed for yet another Salamanca game. Heavy, wet snow. And it greatly affected the game. Salamanca scored in the last minute to win, 6-0.
 

Sykotyk

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5/14/21 - NYSPHSAA Section 6 Class D Championship - Franklinville/Ellicottville hosted Salamanca in Franklinville. It was cool. But not cold enough to snow. But, maybe Salamanca needed it. FE Titans ran off to a commanding lead and held on to win, 21-7.



5/15/21 - NYSPHSAA Section 6 Class B Championship - What I first thought was my final game of the 2020 season. Hosted at the site of the old "Rockpile", aka War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo is the newly created youth complex Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium. The host Maritime/Health Sciences took on Iroquois, and the game, fittingly, went 20-20 through regulation. Before the second overtime TD by MHS right at me in the joyful scrum of players having just won their section.





6/4/21 - But I was wrong. The PSAL had started up football for a very brief, very late spring season. Couldn't work out a game the week after Buffalo. But did make the first weekend of June for two games. Abraham Lincoln might be one of the marquee stadiums of New York City. Located on Coney Island, the stadium sits behind the high school in the shadow of the huge Warbasse Towers. A few blocks from the ocean. Such an impressive venue, that for the PSAL titles this fall, the city used Lincoln Field to host the three games when Yankee Stadium (the usual host venue for the City Championship) was unavailable. The Rail Splitters won over James Madison. The team was so thrilled anyone was there to cover them. Since outside Staten Island, high school sports are a blip on the radar inside a city as large as New York.



6/5/21 - One of the hottest day games I've ever been to. At 98 degrees with little breeze, it was sweltering on Staten Island. New Dorp (Anglecized Dutch for Nieuw Dorp (meaning New Village) that was founded in 1671 was host to Susan Wagner. Another island team. The Central Cougars were down by two scores before coming back to also send it to overtime. And then win.
 

Sykotyk

Well-known member
But, that wasn't it...


6/10/21 - After a great time in NYC, I drove back out for another weekend. This time including a Thursday game at Fort Hamilton. The field was lined with multi-million dollar homes on the western edge of Brooklyn. Yet the field didn't have stands, a press box, or lights. Just a large rectangle of turf and running track surrounded by chainlink fences. Fort Hamilton was hosting one of the stalwarts of NYC: Erasmus Hall. The school was first founded in 1786, and reconstituted as public school in 1896. And broken up into multiple smaller magnet schools in 1994, whose sports teams combine the Erasmus Hall Educational Campus into a single team. The Flying Dutchmen. No scoreboard. no announcer. No press box. Erasmus Hall (in red) won quite easily. Then a quick drive through Manhattan for a sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen and back to my hotel.



6/11/21 - Friday was back at Abraham Lincoln. Where I was welcomed back. Had a great time. Got some more great photos and reported on their game. Definitely glad to see this place one last time. These photos don't do those towers justice. They are huge and just across the street beyond the south endzone. Went two streets over for the Brooklyn Cyclones game after the Friday afternoon Abraham Lincoln game was over.



6/12/21 - Last game of the 2020 season was in June, 2021. Back at New Dorp. The game I was going to cover fell through, but the New Dorp coach invited me back for their game against Port Richmond. Glad that I did. Was a great game. Better weather. New Dorp trailed by two touchdowns again, before coming back to win, 24-16.
 
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Sykotyk

Well-known member
I didn't go to any games in July. But August started in Georgia.



Corky Kell Classic - This was my first time at the Corky Kell Classic. The 30th year of games. Did photos for 9 of the 11 games over 4 days. Including the 5-game Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.



8/26/21 - My first game at Harding Stadium in years. Went with my daughter and just sat in the stands. Got some good photos I posted here previously. But, really liked Man'o'War from the visitor side.



8/27/21 - Blue Overload at Seneca HS near Erie, PA. Hosting Northwestern. Northwestern literally kicked their a**.


9/2/21 - Conneaut v. Oil City on a Thursday night. Not many good photos from their very dark field. But did like the way this one came out with the lights behind the poofy thing.


9/4/21 - Back at Clymer. This time hosting Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove. MG had to emergency co-op with a team due to low numbers right before the season. Their failed attempt to jump back up to 11-man from 8-man in the spring killed interest in participation as they were easily handled in every game they played. Lacking the state requirement of 16 available players, they were forced to co-op or cancel the season. And CV/F were willing partners to co-op for one year. Life in smalltown football. Six schools playing one game.


9/4/21 - First game at Fort LeBoeuf in northwestern PA. Hosting Grove City. Just a half hour or so west of Clymer. Got a sequence of photos of this fumble. Which basically sealed the game for the underdog Fort LeBoeuf Bison to upset Grove City.
 

Sykotyk

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9/9/21 - Back in Ohio. Western Ohio. Arcanum hosting Ansonia on a Thursday night. This is quintessential small town football in Ohio. Fans standing and sitting along the sideline. The water tower. The low scoreboard. And a victorious home team.



9/10/21 - No one can tell me that Indiana HS Football is boring. Second time at Delta just outside Muncie. Huge crowd once again. Overtime. Yorktown scored first to go up 28-21. Delta scored, and the extra point was no good. A raucus sideline ensued.



9/16/21 - Iroquois (PA)'s home field was being renovated. So home games were moved east to Harbor Creek's field. Also caused a few Thursday and Saturday games. This Thursday game was hosting Kennedy Catholic. A 14-0 Iroquois lead led to two KC touchdowns. But, trailing 14-12 went for two and came up short. The realization.


9/17/21 - Central Clarion v. Brookville. Brookville dominated. Encapsulated in this photo of yet another Raider TD.


9/18/21 - Back in Erie. This time suburban Erie for McDowell hosting Butler. And this jigsaw puzzle of body parts.


9/18/21 - Back at my alma mater: Greenville. Wasn't a great game. Watched most of it with my daughter from the stands.
 
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Sykotyk

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9/23/21 - Back at Cupples Stadium in Pittsburgh.


9/24/21 - From the big city to the Pasture of Pain. Eisenhower HS in small Russell, Pennsylvania's home field is colloquially known as the Pasture of Pain. And it smells like it, too. That's a working barn in the distance. And well within the smell range.




9/25/21 - Back at Panama for CSP v. Randolph. It did not go well for the Wolfpack.


9/30/21 - My original Thursday game was cancelled. Thanks to Fredonia dominating Gowanda/Pine Valley the week prior, that they were unable to field a team (NY requires 16 active available players to play a game). This meant the only Thursday game was those very same Fredonia Hillbillies playing at Salamanca. So, I was back in Salamanca. And no, this was not called pass interference.


10/1/21 - First game in October. Redbank Valley, with one loss, was playing at undefeated Smethport. Redbank Valley, aside from that loss, was having a stellar season. Which would only get better. But I liked this photo of Smethport's mountainous terrain during the anthem.



10/2/21 - First game at Buffalo St. Joseph's when they hosted Erie (PA). Interesting field setup at SJCI. Erie dominated and were quite happy about it.




10/4/21 - Rare Monday Night Doubleheader in Pittsburgh. First photo, I just rarely take photos of a kick in the air. But I loved the way that one turned out. Great framing of the second photo. And great leap in the third.
 

Sykotyk

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10/7/21 - Rare Thursday night game in Kansas. And I just happened to be in Junction City. Brand new school and stadium built on the west end of the city. Halftime entertainment was a presentation of a military police dog. They made everyone clear the field for this one.



10/14/21 - Another rare Thursday game. This time in Nebraska. Pender, Nebraska is home of the Pendragons. Playing the Homer Knights. One of the best seasons ever for Pender since joining 8-man football. Undefeated deep into the playoffs. Tonight they'd beat Homer easily. Light rain started at the tail end of this one.



10/15/21 - Next night was South Dakota. Small Ipswich, South Dakota is one of the rare 9-man teams that isn't the result of a co-op. Though it's still a 9-man team. North Central, their opponent, is from the three towns of Roscoe (Edmunds Central), Bowdle, and Eureka.




10/16/21 - Last up was North Dakota. South Border (co-op of Ashley and Wishek) hosted Grant County/Flasher. At first, it seemed like South Border would win this one. But the Grant County/Flasher Storm took the halftime lead. And held it through a scoreless second half. Game was televised. Huge crowd lining the field. Fun day on a gorgeous warm October afternoon in southern North Dakota.
 

Sykotyk

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10/21/21 - Texas. This was the first of three states including one of the best stadiums I've been to. But first up was Pebble Hills v. Americas on El Paso's east side. Loved this photo of the Spartans TD.




10/22/21 - East Arizona has perhaps the most unique high school football stadium in the country. This isn't a case where a school plays at a dome. Or some other organization built a dome that the school also uses. The district themselves funded, built, and operate the Round Valley Dome. The only real downside is just how yellow the lighting looks. The dome is made of wood. Round Valley hosted Snowflake, the eventual state champions, and were beaten decisively. Including this 52 yard field goal.



10/23/21 - Pine Hill (NM) v. Dulce (NM). Small school on the Pine Hill Reservation. Playing homecoming and senior day to close out the season. They didn't win. It wasn't close. New Mexico uses a 50-point sudden death. They staved it off until after the halftime festivities. But Dulce quickly put it away.




10/23/21 - Just an hour from Pine Hill's afternoon game was a rare Saturday night game in New Mexico. Grants was hosting St. Pius X from Albuquerque. The Pirates (alternative nickname being Angry Jacks), were wearing 'color rush' uniforms sponsored by a local business. They kept it far closer than projected. But the Sartans (not mispelled) won convincingly. A ton of turnovers in this one. From both sides.
 
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Sykotyk

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10/28/21 - Petrolia, Texas for their game against defending state champion Windthorst (who I saw win that title over Mart). Windthorst ran away with this one.



10/29/21 - Hooker (OK) v. Mooreland (OK). Onesided game. But a fun atmosphere in the panhandle. Hooker has one of the funnier town names you'll come across.




10/30/21 - Wild West Bowl - Dodge City, Kansas. Six-man football is, until 2022, unregulated by the KSHSAA in Kansas. So, the schools that have chosen to drop to six-man have created their own Six-Man Association. And of the 15 current teams, conduct their own season and playoffs. The Wild West Bowl is their championship game held at Dodge City. It's a doubleheader, featuring the third place game and the championship. Also following the standard 45 point mercy rule in 6-man, Natoma won with that lunging one-handed TD to end the game late in the third quarter over Cunningham.
 

Sykotyk

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11/10-11/13/21 - Just a fan in the stands for the fourteen Iowa Semifinals. So, didn't take a ton of photos. Did get the just short reach for the TD in the first game of the weekend. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley coming out of the tunnel. And the only time I was on the home side of the UNI-Dome.



11/18-11/20/21 - Minnesota Semifinals. Just sitting in the stands for fourteen more games. Though next year I have a contact to get in for photography. Hopefully. Didn't take a ton from the stands again. But did get this epic hit in the Mankato West-Rogers game. Second time at US Bank Stadium for games.



11/27/21 - Back in Pennsylvania at Heinz Field. Three games on Saturday on the sideline. Got this Belle Vernon Leopard leeping in for the tackle. And the Aliquippa hail mary to end the first half.
 

Sykotyk

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12/4/21 - West Virginia Super Six at Wheeling Island. Only there for Saturday. Did the Central Valley-Martinsburg Central game on Friday in Monaca, PA. Wheeling Island Stadium is an underrated stadium. And the WVSSAC puts on a great event for their finals. Martinsburg and Huntington squaring off in the Saturday afternoon game.





12/9/21 - PIAA Class 1A Championship - Redbank Valley, who I saw earlier this year at Smethport, were the first District 9 team to make a state championship game since 1992 (Smethport). They were playing perennial small school power Bishop Guilfoyle from Altoona. And they almost did it. But BG was able to answer punch for punch. Winning 21-14.


12/9/21 - Aliquippa v. Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt. Aliquippa, a 1A school that has played up from 2A to 3A before enrollment dropped them further. But PA's new competitive balance rule--having enough playoff points and transfers--puts them up a class. Which forced them to stay in 3A and get bumped to 4A. And they still win the state title. And it's possible they'll go up to 5A next year. Which is met with a bit of contention. Including the threat of dropping from the WPIAL and playing an independent schedule if forced to play a 5A season.




12/11/21 - Central Valley and Wyomissing played for the second straight year in the state finals. The game was one all running. Central Valley with a lone, 23 yard TD run. And this epic one handed interception by Tommy Grabowski (great name) to end a second scoring threat. But Wyomissing could not move the ball downfield to score. CV would win, 7-0.


12/18/21 - Last game of 2021 (for me). Texas' UIL Class 6AD2 Championship. Denton Guyer against Austin Westlake. It was the revenge game for Guyer after a 24-0 shutout two years ago. And despite flirting with a lead, a decision to go for a state record FG by Westlake was good. And the momentum had shifted. Instead of the ball and a lead, they trailed. And then a turnover crushed the dream of an upset victory over the juggernauts of 2021.



103 games in the fall. 157 games from January to December, total. Games in 11 of the 12 months. 16 states in the fall. 19 states for the whole year.

Map of every place I've seen a game.
 

Sykotyk

Well-known member
Wow! Thanks for sharing. Have you ever been to an Odessa Permian home game? Thats on my bucket list.
Not yet. But I've seen the stadium. In 2020, I was planning to see the Jayton Kickoff Classic with a friend from Texas. It's a three day event with two six-man games on Thursday and two on Friday. And 5 on Saturday. The plan was to go to the Permian game on Friday night instead. When Covid pushed back the big school classes, we were going to go to Sweetwater instead (the Mustang Bowl is another noteworthy Texas stadium). But then Covid cancelled the Jayton Kickoff Classic. Sending all the games to their participating schools' host stadiums. Which is how I was in Aspermont last fall.









 

Sykotyk

Well-known member
Sorry if I missed it, but what do you do for a living? These are some awesome pictures.
Thanks. I work for myself so I can do as I please.

I don't want to just take pictures. I want someone to look at it and go... Wow. That's art. And these are the best of the best from this year.
 

Chop Stix

Well-known member
Awesome pics/stories. It's always a highlight on this site to read your year-in-review posts.

I have close ties to many of the Buffalo/Western NY schools you saw play.

I enjoyed your NYC pics as well. I've worked at several public high schools throughout the city for the past 9 years - only one of them has had a football team. A couple of these schools have had 2,000+ kids and still no football. South Brooklyn and Staten Island are really the only parts of the city that produce decent football teams.
 
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