Lukas Moore --
This will be my 7th season broadcasting high school football, and I am bubbling with excitement. This area is loaded with intrigue, and I'm ready to finally stop speculating about this season. I can't wait to feel the raw energy of rivalry games. I can't wait for the fun we have on Football Friday Nights on Power 105.
But, I'll be honest, I wish I wasn't broadcasting high school games this Friday. Not because I don't want to be there, but because I want to be calling NCAA/NFL games full-time. I mean, who doesn't? The money's better, the rosters aren't wrong, and more people listen. Most, maybe all, broadcasters feel the same way I do. Some of those broadcasters have given me sideways glances when I explain the level of preparation I put into high school games. Friends have given me even more sideways looks when I go on an angry rant about the horrific regional realignment by the OHSAA, or tell them that I don't party on Friday's.
Those friends usually ask this question, "Why do you care so much?"
I care because I'm in love with sports. I'm in love with telling stories within sports, and once I know what a game means and who's involved, I care a lot. The first step to a successful broadcast is actually caring about what you're broadcasting. Passion bleeds through the radio like a sharpie through paper. The listener can feel the energy, and the passion, if the broadcaster delivers. It's magical.
I felt that energy for the first-time in 2010.
I was just 12 years old, and the Reds were on the cusp on winning their first division title since 1995. Tie game vs the Astros, bottom of the ninth in Cincinnati, and up steps Jay Bruce. Bruce cracked a homer to center and the passion of Thom Brennaman on that call still gives me shivers. It's the moment that gave me the crazy idea that I could deliver that same type of moment, one day, and make someone feel the way I felt in that moment.
When I came to southeast Ohio in the fall of 2016, I didn't think I'd deliver a moment like that to anyone for a long time. I mean, who ACTUALLY cares about high school? I planned on giving everything I had to my broadcasts, but I never expected to give people the type of moments Thom Brennaman gave me 9 years ago.
That was until week 9 of 2017, Buckeyes vs Vikings. Nelsonville-York was undefeated and thought they'd have an easy win to set up a titanic week 10 clash with Athens. Vinton County had other ideas. It was a close game, a battle, and I got into it. The Buckeyes marched down the field in under 40 seconds, with no timeouts, culminating in a walk-off touchdown. It is still one of the most exciting drives of my broadcasting career. I remember my call when then sophomore Keegan Wilburn brought down the catch of the year, "The sophomore saves senior night!" Boston Field was bumping, and I thought it was a great broadcast. My heart was racing, I had a massive smile on my face, and I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had just delivered someone out there that moment.
When I got back to the station Troy Bolin told me someone had called in and said that it was the most exciting game they had ever listened to, and said it was because of me. Don't tell Troy, but in that moment I was nearly moved to tears. I brought someone that moment, I did that, I couldn't believe it. Even if it was just one person, I did something at age 19 I thought I wouldn't accomplish until my 30's. I loved that moment, it might be the best night of my life.
So why do I care about high school sports? Because for these communities and all of those kids, that game on Friday, it matters the same to them as an NFL game does to Tom Brady. Those crazy Tomcat, or Buckeye, or Bulldog fans. They care. I feel that energy every Friday in the fall. The reason for caring is pure, it isn't driven by money, or scholarships, but by pride. It's driven by a sense of community, for a pure love of the game that just isn't found in the higher levels of football. Just visit the Dog Pound in The Plains before an Athens game, or the lot in Glouster it's nothing but love for their community, and love for football.
Telling those stories and showcasing these athletes is fulfilling. It brings me joy, it fills me with the same bubbly energy as the Bengals or Bobcats do; and if I never broadcast a game at a level higher than this, it won't matter. Because if my "worst case scenario" is broadcasting southeastern Ohio football forever, well, that's a pretty damn good worst case scenario in my opinion.
I care about high school football because it matters. It matters to the coaches, players, and fans. It matters enough that if the stars align, and my voice stays steady, I can give someone a memory they might never forget. I can make people feel the same way Thom Brennaman made me feel in 2010, and that, well that's the dream.
So yes, I do care about high school football, a lot. Most of my 21 year old friends would probably say too much. I skipped a lot of parties in my three years at Ohio, and I would skip them all again. I hope my level of care comes through loud and clear on every broadcast this season.
Is it Friday yet?