It’s that time of year again. High School Football is back in full swing. And I like the look of our North Royalton Purple Raiders this year.

We are coming off a deplorable 5-and-5 season and I put the blame squarely on last year’s “Coach”, John Gillen. To this day I have no idea how he even managed to get five wins, what with his head shoved entirely up his ass. Gillen had this ridiculous, “everyone gets to play” strategy that crippled us throughout the season. It’s a nice sentiment and all, but let’s be realistic. Some of these kids are just weak, valueless sideline gawkers. And they should be brushed aside to make way for the stronger, better people in the same manner that they will be throughout their lives. Gillen just didn’t understand that.

Some people were upset when I organized the effort to have the seventy-year old man removed from his coaching position, but we’ll see if I’m still a “meddlesome asshole” when we take Division III State this year.

I like this new coach. Coach Rhodes. He brought back the summer three-a-day practices that Coach Gillen got rid of. And that’s what you’ve gotta do to compete. After all, why should these teenage boys spend their summers with their family and friends, creating memories and experiencing fulfilling and healthy youths, when they can be out in the sun all day running ladders and pushing sleds?

As you might have guessed, I played a little Raider ball back in my day. Defensive back. Led the team in tackles six games my senior year. Probably would have played college ball too if I hadn’t knocked up Sue when I was eighteen. My promising football career was cut short by the birth of my faggot son Bill Swayze, Jr.

I have long since given up on trying to get Bill Jr. to play football. I sometimes believe that he has made it his mission in life to disappoint me in every manner that he possibly can. Bill Jr. plays soccer. I have told him on several occasions that my primary regret in life was granting him the use of my now-tarnished name. Early on in his high school career, after much verbal and physical “encouragement”, Bill Jr. offered to try to make the football team as a punter. I told him that I’d rather just not have him play at all.

But I don’t want to think about that right now. I’d rather concentrate on this year’s State-bound Raiders.

Take our quarterback, Chris Pirigyi, for example. Now there is a thoroughbred. 6’1, 185 lbs. The kid is made out of granite. And what a cannon. Now there’s a son a father could be proud of. I actually checked his birth records to see if there was any chance that he was born the same day as Bill Jr. I thought there was an outside chance there might have been a mix-up at the hospital. But Chris was born in October, so that theory’s out. I really thought we had the same eyes too.

I’m a little worried about our cornerback situation this year. We’ve got this sophomore, Dave Heltzel, who’s got a lot of heart, but at 5’4, 123 lbs, I’ve got to be a little concerned about his size. I made the off-handed remark to Coach Rhodes that while steroid use might be a hot-button issue at the professional level right now, as far as I know, they are not currently testing high school players. He got all steamed and told me that was an “outrageous” idea. But I still say that sometimes you have to get your hands a little dirty if you want to take it to the next level.

Recently, I’ve been scouting the practices of every high school team in the area. It’s pretty obvious that Garrettsville is going to be a pushover again this year, but I’m not liking what I’m seeing over at the Broadview Heights playing field. It got awfully “dark” over there since last year, if you get my drift. And you know what that means; speed.

This could be a legitimate problem, since the best kid in our secondary, Corey Raider, got grounded by his father when he caught him drinking and driving this summer. Says he can’t play ball this year. So I went over to the Raider house to try to talk some sense into Tom Raider, whom I do not know.

I told him that when we were kids we all had our fair share of monkey shines, and that while punishing Corey is one thing, by not letting him play football he was actually punishing the Purple Raiders fan base as a whole.

Tom, who apparently lacks both parenting skills and school spirit, told me to get the hell off his porch before he called the authorities.

God, that Chris Pirigyi is a stud. He could probably throw the ball two hundred yards if he were so inclined. I wish to Christ he’d knock up my daughter. Imagine that offspring. The kid would get my genetic football smarts and Chris Pirigyi’s Adonis-like body. The Colts would probably sign him out of preschool.

But no. My daughter has to date a band geek. Plays drums or some shit. Just my luck. That little fucker eats on the porch when he comes over here for dinner, I’ll tell ya that much.

Some people might consider it sad that my overall happiness revolves around the physical accomplishments of a group of teenage boys. Most of these kids can’t even vote, but they are directly responsible for determining my mental well-being and whether or not my wife and queer son get physically abused each Friday night throughout the autumn. But I think that’s a bunch of beans. We all have to hang our hat on something.

Think I’ll head over to the Brunswick High field to see how they’re shaping up this year. Heard they’ve got a nose tackle the size of a house. That I’ve gotta see.

Every other Monday until the release of the book, we will post an all-new sketch based on one of our favorite essays from "Look At My Striped Shirt!". Be sure to check back.

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