By Steve Williams

It’s a special time of the year. High school football season openers are just days away. I wish I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard a coach say, “The hay is in the barn.”

Can we put Tennessee football on the back burner for a week? I know excitement is building about our young Vols. We’ll still have next week to get pumped for the Big Orange and the invasion of Utah State.

The TSSAA calls this Week 0. Why?

Maybe some executive director felt sorry for the number zero and wanted to give it some love and recognition. Maybe some assistant executive director, assigned to naming the first week and knowing each team has a bye week, thought it would sound more official for the final week of the regular season to be called Week 10.

No matter what you call it, this is the first week of the 2014 high school season. A couple of games will be played early, including the Rivalry Thursday opener matching Gibbs at Carter, which can be seen on MyVLT starting at 7.

Then comes the first Friday night of the campaign when 14 more local teams will be in action. Central, Hardin Valley Academy and South-Doyle have their byes in Week 0 and will play their openers Aug. 29.

The players aren’t the only ones who have been preparing for the start of the season. Cheerleaders and band members, who add so much to the excitement of high school football, also have been practicing while out of school for the summer.

Maybe you’ve passed by a high school field or school parking lot on your way home from work and seen them out there practicing.

Other high school sports are just as important, but football seems to get more attention than others in this area, and that can probably be attributed to the popularity of UT football over the years. We do love our football.

Keep in mind, however, that some 95 percent of those high school players will not play on the major college level of the Vols. And while sports like golf, tennis and baseball can be played on into adulthood, playing high school football is usually the end of the line for the vast majority.

But it sure is fun and exciting while it lasts.

You don’t have to be a mom or dad or aunt or uncle to enjoy high school football. If you’re a football fan and haven’t attended a high school game in a while, you should go some Friday night, particularly when the weather is nice and crisp and the leaves are red and gold.

Check the schedule and pick out a game. Games that are hyped are not always the best from a spectator standpoint. Try to find one where the teams are evenly matched and the outcome is likely to go down to the final quarter.

The action will be up close and the effort will be all-out.

And the kids will appreciate you being there.