Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Me and High School Football

I have a strange relationship with high school football, especially in that I never played it.

My first experience not playing was freshman year when I was excused from playing in PE. I was allowed to take pictures instead of participating. Below is one of the only pictures I took. I hadn’t gotten my own darkroom equipment yet so this one was developed and printed at school.

I was yearbook photographer at my next high school so I went all of the football games to take pictures. I had all my own photo developing stuff too!

One of my first games, early in the year, was an away game. I was terrified because I didn’t know anyone. My mom made me a big pan of brownies that I brought on the bus in a shoebox. The idea was that I’d get an β€œin” by giving everyone treats.

I was sitting there with this shoebox trying to figure out how to hand them out when one of the guys spotted them.

β€œHey, are those brownies? Can I have one?”

I gave him a brownie. Then someone in the next row spotted them and wanted one. Soon, I was throwing brownies to the back of the bus.

Away games were always the most fun. I loved getting to ride on the bus with the players. We traveled to all kinds of tiny towns south of Red Bluff. Los Molinos, Hamilton City, Orland. In one town, the guest locker room entrance was outside, next to field. The ground was littered with what looked like empty crack vials.

I loved it when I got a shot of someone in mid-air. I used to make prints of the best action shots and give them to the guys featured in the picture. A few people even paid me for extra copies.

Our school didn’t have a field so we played home games over at the elementary school.

I remember one game where a tackle went out of bounds and knocked over several cheerleaders.

I remember another game where an opposing player got hauled off in an ambulance. I snapped a couple of pictures of him getting loaded onto the stretcher but it felt weird so I never made prints.

We played a horrible game in rain storm once. I don’t remember which town but it was the opposing team’s homecoming and they destroyed us. It was dark and I had my camera wrapped in a garbage bag to protect it. I got so cold that I bought a coffee at the concession stand and started spilling it on my hands to keep warm.

I shot two rolls of film that night. The only negative that came out was the scoreboard showing our brutal defeat.