“Play ball!”

At last, it’s a chorus, not a solitary voice.

I’m talking about football, of course. Laurens Academy has been alone, out in the COVID-19 wilderness, playing four games, a pair of close ones the Crusaders lost and a pair of mismatches they won.

The virus has changed everything. The appointment book once showed Eastside visiting Laurens and Clinton visiting Chapman. For that matter, it also had Presbyterian at Gardner-Webb.

Political broadcasters are fond of the word “pushback” (as a noun; two words, “push back,” as a verb) to denote resistance. The epidemic has pushed back sports with little resistance.

As a result, Clinton is playing Emerald because the Vikings are available in lieu of Union County, which is on the NCL (Novel Coronavirus List), and the game is on Thursday night, not Friday, when Laurens is at long last visiting Greenwood, where former head coach Chris Liner now resides.

At PC, when the pushback ends is not yet public knowledge. Every single fall sport has been pushed back to some distant point beyond the autumn colors. It appears as though basketball may begin the night before Thanksgiving, but the schedule remains as unlisted as Dabo Swinney’s private number.

Meanwhile, Todd Kirk’s plucky Crusaders have occupied me like an army and covered me like an insurance policy. LA plays 8 at a time and a total of 17 if no one is shaken up. I can identify every player on the team and most of the parents. Regardless of where the coming hostilities take the Raiders and Red Devils, I will never get to know them all.

I will try, though.

That’s not all. I will try to give you angles unknown in basic geometry and colors uncommon in the spectrum. I will try to compensate for my years with guts, experience and the occasional sense of humor.

Coaches tell me of boys and girls who love to get after “it,” love “the game,” lead by example, give “110 percent” and get up “off the deck” every single time they get knocked down.

I will dutifully record their insights, all the while attempting to add some mild nuance of my own. To simplify, I will write what I see and take pictures of it just in case memory fails.

Since April, I have been making the best of what I have. Now it’s time for the best Laurens County has to offer on its playing fields, gymnasiums, courts, courses and tracks.