A cold front has blown in today. The winds are raging at 40+ miles per hour, the temperatures are falling well into the 70s, and it feels like the end of summer. We can hear the Amarillo High School band practice in the mornings from the parking lot two blocks east of our house. We’ll be packing sweatshirts when we pile into the van late this afternoon for what has become in a short amount of time a Friday night tradition for us here of tailgating and Sandies football. And tonight’s game is the one we all look forward to. This is the big one: Amarillo High versus Tascosa. Tonight marks the 55th consecutive year of this showcase matchup between cross-town rivals. A few houses and cars around the city have been egged this week, which is typical of Hell Week (that’s “Spirit Week” for the more politically correct among us). And with Carrie-Anne teaching now at Tascosa, we’ve had our own back and forth trash-talking inside our house divided.

But it’s just not the same.

The Sandies and the Rebels, for the first time ever — EVER! — are not in the same district. Tonight’s game is a non-district (gasp!) contest. And it’s just not the same.

There’s civic pride and bragging rights and all that. But there’s no district standings to be impacted by the outcome of the game. No playoff positioning at stake. Plus, it’s still September, for crying out loud. These two teams traditionally tee it up late in the year in, more often than not, a do-or-die situation. Golden football trophies are supposed to be on the line in this one. The fourteen to fifteen thousand fans packed into Bivins Stadium should be holding their breath on every snap. But it’s not that way anymore. It’s not nearly as important.

It’s also kinda weird in that Palo Duro destroyed the Rebels in last week’s opener while Amarillo poured it on in Odessa. It’s felt like all week that Tascosa doesn’t have a chance tonight.

Oh, I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to have a blast. It’s still a cross-town rivalry, the whole town will still show up, the food and fellowship in the parking lot will be wonderful, and it’ll be high school football under the Friday night lights on a crisp fall evening. It’ll be fabulous.

But it won’t be the same.

Blow, Sand, Blow!