You know you’re not in New Jersey any more when you get to a high school football game two hours before it starts and there’s tailgating. This was going to be different. As I said the other day, I’m filming high school football games for these guys. Friday night was my first game, the Mallard Creek Mavericks (not the Ducks?) at Independence. Independence is big time around here, think Berwick if you’re from Pennsylvania. Independence has won four state championships recently, including last year.
I got there early because I’ve never filmed a game before and I had no idea how to go about such a thing. My assignment was to film the game from a high vantage point near the fifty-yard line. While waiting in line to get a $5 general admission ticket, a guy game out and taped a 6 over the 5 with electrical tape, thus raising the price. After going through a security check with metal detectors, I headed to the announcer’s booth. There was a tent set up on the roof of it as well as a professional looking camera, so it was worth a shot to see if I could get up there. I found an important looking man and told him that I was filming for the National Prep Network and asked if I could get up there. Without blinking he showed me to a ladder and up I went. That was easy.
Once on the roof I met a Mallard Creek coach and we got to talking about New Jersey. He told me he used to work in South Orange and “that town with all the crime.” I said, “Elizabeth?” “No.” “Newark?” “Yeah, Newark.”
The teams started warming up, that’s when it got interesting. Independence didn’t warm-up with their shoulder pads or jerseys on, just t-shirts. I can only assume that the t-shirts had some message on them that they were trying to convey, but I was too far away to make it out.
Sometime in the middle of warm-ups the entire Independence team ran to the 50-yard line, some of them crossed it, which is a no-no, and created quite a yelling ruckus. Think sixty Joey Porters. Mallard Creek didn’t like getting served in this manner, but their coaches managed to keep their players in order and normalcy resumed for about three minutes. Independence had returned to warming up when one of the Mallard Creek coaches jogged a group of about 10 linemen down to the Independence end zone, out of bounds, and served Independence with some form of jumping jacks and more yelling. It was on! A coach from each team promptly got into a shouting argument at midfield, while a po-lice officer stood by waiting to pounce.
Eventually it was game time. Mallard Creek never left the field, which I found odd. They warmed up and then hung out and waited for the game to start. I just assumed they would leave and come back for a big entrance. Nope, that was reserved for Independence. They entered the field through an inflatable tunnel, for real. And there was a cannon, why did there have to be a cannon? My most bitter high school defeat came at the hands of a team that had a cannon and it makes me nauseous to be near one. The announcer even declared, “We apologize if our barrage of cannon fire offends you.” It does, Sir, it does. He also made the announcement that, “As in all North Carolina high school events, there is no body paint allowed in the stands and you must keep your shirt on.” I was stationed next to the guy filming the game for Independence, and he was using an HD camera. Inflatable tunnels and HD cameras, I’m sure somewhere an art teacher isn’t thrilled about that.
As for my actual assignment, it went fairly well. I was told to make sure I get all 22 players at the start of the plays and zoom in if I could as the play developed. I had a few tripod issues, but I give myself a B. I met a fellow filmer, and I asked him for tips, other than using a tent, because the sun beats on you until 8:00. He said, “Bug spray and an umbrella, always an umbrella.” Noted. And call the school ahead of time and get permission to be on the roof, they usually have no problem with that. That just makes perfect sense.
My other challenge was my bladder, but I knew this going in. I had no idea if I would be filming from the stands, so I didn’t want to have to leave my spot and my camera to go relieve myself. I prepared like I do to go on a plane and stopped drinking fluids around 2 PM. I put two water bottles in my backpack, which security was supposed to toss, but they only checked my camera bag and the water got through. I still didn’t drink anything until half-time. My bladder held up, but my legs and feet were hurting by the third quarter. You learn that a player injury, while bad for the player is prime time to take a knee or sit down for a few minutes.
Mallard Creek thumped Independence 26-6, and my bladder and I headed home. Not before the losing home team shot off the loudest cannon blast of the night, probably just to offend me some more.
I’ll leave you with this gem. The Independence camera boy was talking to his friend about his recent trip to New York and said, “Long Island is just like Charlotte, except for the people.” I don’t know which group of people he was insulting or which group should be insulted. I think I’m insulted either way and I’ve been here for less than two months.