When past and present collide on the gridiron [COLUMN]

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

My past met my present Sept. 27.

I was at the Calera-Shelby County game enjoying a great game when it happened.

See, 75 miles away in Montgomery, I had a freelancer assigned to cover Spain Park play Robert E. Lee in what was predicted to be a blowout. After all, Spain Park is one the most up-and-coming programs in 6A right now, and well, Lee hasn’t been much of anything since it’s most recent state football championship in 1992.

Two programs in opposite directions, with one trying to reach the pinnacle of football excellence in Alabama, the other slowly fading into a specter of football lore.

But it ended up being a great game, from what the freelancer texted me. The two teams played each other tough with Spain Park opening a lead and Lee closing back in.

Down 20-14 late in the fourth, the Generals drove the field, standing on the Spain Park 5-yard line as time ticked away. With one last play, the Generals gave it a shot, falling five yards short of the end zone and the upset. It was the closest they’ve played any team the magnitude of Spain Park in years.

So why does this game matter so much? Because Robert E. Lee-Montgomery is my alma mater. I played for them in 2006, and I have watched the program’s decline from afar as I’ve drifted away from home. The halls of the school and the senior season I spent on the squad are ingrained in my past. It has helped make me who I am.

That said, my present, and hopefully future, is here in Shelby County covering these teams. I am here now, and for the sake of their championship hopes, I am ecstatic Spain Park won the game. I feel they could be a serious championship threat come playoff time.

But for a fleeting moment, the 17-year-old me smiled, knowing that maybe, just maybe, my hometown team I’ve wandered from could follow the Jags’ lead in (re)building a success program.