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They'll fight their hearts out 

There's a certain smell to freshly mowed grass on a high school football field, a mixture of chlorophyll and dew and mud that wafts into a player's nose and triggers a release of adrenaline and testosterone that carries him through the picturesque violence that will consume his mind and body and soul for a quartet of 12-minute quarters.

Books and movies like Friday Night Lights can only go so far in relaying the passion and release that is a high school football game. For those who have experienced it first-hand, who have rattled jaws and had theirs rattled, who have kicked the shit out of someone and had their own asses handed to them, each game becomes a distinct, vivid memory in your mind. The intensity and insanity you feel as you leave it all behind for 48 minutes are emotions that simply cannot be fully explained.

Nor can they be understood. To critics, football is just a brutish, even Neanderthal pursuit of dumb jocks who can barely spell their own names. But football players don't care about the opinions of other people --- people who don't realize how complex and mentally demanding the game of football really is. Those people will never get it, and that's their loss.

They'll never understand why this Friday's showdown between the Webster Schroeder Warriors and the Webster Thomas Titans means so much to every single player on both teams. For the past two seasons, Schroeder and Thomas have met for the Section V Class AA title. In 2003, Schroeder won. Thomas won last year. Because of that, the rivalry carries even more importance to those involved.

Critics will never understand why every single game on Fairport High School's 2005 schedule will mean so much to each and every Red Raider. They'll never understand what it means to be a Fairport football player, burdened by the legacy left by the 11 sectional titles and two state crowns the Red Raiders won between 1977 and 1998 --- and by the zero titles they've won since. Critics will never understand how much pressure each current Fairport player faces to restore the program to glory.

Critics will never understand how much it means for city schools like East and Edison to beat teams from the suburbs, to stare down and conquer the spoiled rich kids.

Critics, in the end, will never understand the pride that goes with being a high school football player. This fall, dozens of high schools and hundreds of boys at all levels across Section V will take the field, fight their hearts out and walk off after the final gun with just that: their pride.

Every Friday and Saturday throughout the fall, Rochesterians will have dozens of chances to catch a glimpse of that pride, to feel the passion, to smell the grass. Take advantage of them.

For schedules and other information visit www.sectionv.org/football.

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2005

    A big autumn embrace Jewel-bright leaves trapped between sheets of wax paper.

    Sounds good to me

    Here are music writer Frank De Blase's concert picks for the fall.
    Leon Redbone September 21

    What's so great about Mozart?

    Why, over two centuries after Mozart lived, is he still such a fixture in our cultural consciousness? Why, as we near the 250th anniversary of his birth, is a worldwide celebration mounting, with orchestras clamoring to produce concerts of his music, tourists tracing his footsteps in Austria, and Steinway and Sons giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Salzburg, the city of his birth?

    Of particular note

    The opening of the concert season is a cause for celebration any time, but this year is particularly noteworthy. Resident musicians --- in the Rochester Philharmonic and smaller classical groups, from the Eastman School's outstanding faculty, and in churches and other venues --- will continue to provide exceptional performances.

    The best of all grapes

    Late this summer there were at least two terrific "Winemaker" dinners at Ravines Wine Cellars overlooking Keuka Lake --- Chasing Pinot: In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir and Meritage: The Art of Blending. "Meritage"?

    How'd you get so lucky?

    When people stumble upon my not-so-secret identity as a movie critic, they often start chucking questions at me. Most believe that getting paid to give your unsolicited and subjective opinion sounds like a dream, and I do spend a great deal of time pinching myself. But when the clock strikes midnight and I'm trying to get enthusiastic about a film I had zero interest in seeing, it can seem a little nightmarish.

    Let them entertain you

    It's time for the local theatrics to gear up and people to start dancing. You will have your pick of performances to attend, from community theater shows in school gymnatoriums to visiting blockbusters --- along with a matching range in ticket price --- but here's what we're excited about.

    Turn on the reading light

    Well, the Rochester Arts and Lectures series is already sold out. If you don't have tickets, you may be able to get standing-room-only tickets to hear Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)and Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club) --- both worth it.

    Satisfy your inner nerd

    The autumnal re-opening of school doors calls us back inside to the world of books. Summer paperbacks with sand trapped between the pages get shelved.

    Keep it on ice

    Not too many things have lasted for 50 years in Monroe County, but the Rochester Americans have. Since the Amerks were founded a half-century ago, the demographics of its hometown have completely changed, Kodak has withered away, and countless other American Hockey League teams have come and gone.

    It's the season for eating well

    "It is a time when every cook wishes time could stand still and the bounty of the fall last forever." So says Max chef-owner Tony Gullace, and you'll get no argument from the dozens of food-loving friends who jumped to say what they like best about food in the fall.

    The learning never stops

    School is great, but why stop there? There are plenty of museums offering kid-friendly exhibits and events to keep the structured (but fun!)

Speaking of Fall Guide 2005, football

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