First and foremost, I’m a baseball man. I love it. From the first day of spring training until the very last World Series pitch is thrown, I’m hooked.

But the game of football, there’s just something about it. It’s addictive because football makes us wait. Baseball players, they have 162 games a year. Not football players, though, they only play 19 times a season, and that’s if they play in the Super Bowl, which is a pretty big if.

It’s the first week of September, which means that in mere days people across the country will spend their Sunday afternoons huddled around television sets watching the NFL and neglecting household chores.

If you’re a fan of college football, like myself, then you have already experienced the euphoria of opening weekend, felt the rush of exhilaration that is built by six months of waiting and hoping for those oblong pigskins to be flying through the air once again.

That waiting is one of the reasons that I love this game so much. Each week is a mini-climax. We spend Monday either reveling in a victory celebration or we find like-minded fans and exchange four-letter words and should-haves and could-haves.

But then Wednesday shows up, and like new, we’ve forgotten all about the one-point loss the week before, because in football, each week is a fresh start, a new beginning. That’s the beauty of it, that no matter what happened the week before, we are all so brainwashed by the power of football that we approach each game with our minds wiped clean, without a single recollection of last week.

For a lot of people in these parts, college and professional football take a back seat to the high school gridiron, and I don’t blame them one bit.

I have a confession to make.

Friday, when Belfast Area High School opened its 2004 season at home against Oak Hill, I witnessed my very first high school football game. Oh sure, I’ve been to pro and collegiate games, but honestly, high school tops it all.

I never, not even for a second, imagined that there would be so many people at that game. There was this buzz, a hum of excitement in the air all night long as I paced back and forth along the Belfast sideline.

People thronged the hill in front of the bleachers, they circled the track like Sunday morning walkers, sat in their cars and watched from “luxury boxes” sprung from good old Yankee ingenuity.

I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect when I went through the gate to the field. But as the first quarter progressed I could feel the excitement building inside of me, it felt as though someone had hooked me up to a car battery, my fingers were tingling and I wanted to pump my fists in the air, hoot and holler just like everybody else.

I have found football in its purist form. NFL teams, the Patriots especially, have their die-hard, rabid fans. But the BAHS Lions, they trump the Patriots, the NFL and the NCAA. The whole county shows up on Friday nights.

I have been so close to the Syracuse bench that during a tirade by one of the coaches I watched the spittle fly past my head, but I would trade you two 50-yard line tickets for the Super Bowl if you let me walk the sidelines of a high school game.

The crazy thing about high school is, the players actually care and fans aren’t paying $100 for the seat they’re sitting in, even though they would. The desire I saw in the faces of parents, neighbors, alumni, friends and family Friday night was unbelievable. I think for the first time, I truly understood what the game of football means to Belfast.

And when we watched Garren Horne scamper across that goal line in the second quarter, that electricity that had been building inside of us erupted, and even the most stone-faced sports reporter, who didn’t even grow up in Waldo County, couldn’t help but yell and pump his fist.