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jay take | Nothing beats the Friday night lights of Champaign | Columns


I haven’t been to a high school football game in years, so I’m excited to go out and watch Central-Centennial tonight.

When I was going upstairs, the football game was the place to be every Friday night. During my younger years, it was a time to hang out with my friends in our Central Illinois Youth Football League jerseys and play football on the end zone side.

We haven’t really paid too much attention to the game unless Mikel Leshoure is playing. If so, we were glued to the action on the pitch.

I’ve said it before: it was always a show when he was playing.

As I got older and paid attention to the game, I was fortunate to see a lot of talented players in our community. Two of my favorite players were Joshua Tyler-Butts from Centennial and Brad Wright from Central.

Joshua played the defensive back and wide receiver for the Chargers and graduated in 2010. He was one of the most exciting players to watch because he played with a passion and tenacity you don’t see too often. here. Whether it was his hard knocks or his forward flips in the end zone, he put on the show and was proud to do it.

Brad, on the other hand, had been my boyfriend since we were little. We went to the same daycare, so we had a bond, and he always said he was going to be a star on the run. Well, he kept his word for sure, because in high school he really made a name for himself.

He was the perfect combination of power and finesse as he could crush you or knock you out of your shoes. It just depended on how he was feeling right now.

Brad was one of those guys who had a switch where they could turn it on and instantly become the best player on the pitch. I really believe he could have gone far with football and made a living from it.

It will be good to soak up all the memories I have from this field, and I hope I have the chance to witness some new football stars in the making.

Good luck to all the guys who play, but as a former I’m going to have to cheer on my Maroons.

I pray for the safety of all players and coaches and for a good game both ways.

Jay Simpson writes for The News-Gazette. His column appears on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at [email protected]


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