I would reason a guess that ol' Hank Jr. is warming up, getting ready to belt out the musical question many football fans anxiously await about this same time every year.
I'm ready -- are you?
Ready or not, the pigskin season is fast approaching. The NFL teams have been at work already this week in their respective training camps. The Lopers in Kearney and Eagles in Chadron opened fall football camps earlier this week as they prepare for their respective NCAA Division II college gridiron campaigns. Coach Pelini and the Big Red hit the field Saturday afternoon for the first Nebraska practice session, after the annual meet-and-greet with Husker faithful in Fan Day festivities at the hallowed, heavenly Husker home turf that is Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
It's probably not officially football season in our fair city until the hometown-favorite Bison take the field. That happens Monday when Coach Gross and his staff lead the McCook hopefuls onto the practice turf for their first official team workout of the 2010 season.
Where did the summer go? It doesn't seem possible, but the Bison are just three weeks away from their first game of the season -- Scottsbluff invades Weiland Field Friday, Aug. 27.
It was just a week past that a host of future football Bison displayed their skills at Weiland in the annual MFL action. The McCook Football League completed the 2010 summer season a week ago Thursday. It was a blast for yours truly to watch these young guys do battle.
As I watched the youngsters bump heads on the Weiland Field turf, I couldn't help wondering how many of these kids will go on to star for the Bison a few years down the road? It will be fun to watch their individual football talents blossom, and see if they can one day be a part of the magnificent McCook High School football lore that has swelled in the past decade.
I also know that the guys that starred on the gridiron for the Bison in recent years -- those talented players who were key parts of undefeated seasons, key to the Bison winning state championships -- those prep standouts were once in these young men's shoes, honing their skills in the MFL during their pre-high school days.
The MFL is a great tradition, a great part of McCook football. I got a taste of the Midget football league a few years back on a visit to McCook, and getting to watch the entire season was a big treat. Now I'm looking forward to experiencing a full season of Bison football this fall, from start to finish. I arrived here last year after the Bison lost to Aurora early in the season at Weiland.
It should be a fun football campaign for the Bison. Probably most of the state's prep pigskin pundits will be calling for McCook to have another season like last, with some prognosticators likely pencilling in several losses for the locals. I personally think McCook might turn into a better team than some might think.
I've had the chance to chat with some of the Bison players throughout the summer, and they seem anxious to go out and prove that perhaps last year's 7-4 record was a fluke.
Coach Gross has a bunch of talented youngsters, and probably some big horses in the front lines, but he will have to replace a wealth of strong seniors from last year. Many of the key players for McCook will likely not have much varsity experience, and there will no doubt be a host of juniors and sophomores who see varsity action. If those players develop quickly, it should be another rewarding fall in the Bison camp.
Sorry, Jeff ... A quick apology to former Bison standout Jeff Lyster, who is probably on his way to Minnesota for a new job as you read this.
I sat down and talked with Mr. Lyster earlier this week for a story on his former football experiences in the MFL (he played in the youth league as a McCook youngster and helped coach the winning grades 7-8 team this season), high school (he played on McCook's teams that went 38-1 and won two state titles in 2002-04) and college (he played linebacker at Chadron State, starting at linebacker the past two seasons). My plan was to run the story in today's Sports pages, but it's still a work in progress. So look for that in Monday's edition.