The distinct sound that ripples through a stadium, the one that cracks when pads smack against each other.

The season that starts with shorts and polos and ends with heavy-duty winter coats, gloves, wool hats and three or four layers of clothing.

The undeniable rush that comes whenever the ball is heaved 40 or more yards in the air.

The organization.

The discipline.

The practice sessions that always have more going on than anyone could ever fully observe.

The slow lines in and out of the parking lots on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.

The girlfriends in the stands who wear jackets seven sizes to big yet fit into them perfectly.

The chubby officials that still manage to keep up with 17-year-olds down the sideline.

The good side of sportsmanship, which is so often more prevalent than its opposite, headline-grabbing evil brother.

The bake sales, which have been offering the same four kinds of cookies and cupcakes since the first four-legged table was erected outside a sporting event.

The parents. Oh, you parents in the stands. So adorable. Sometimes.

The drives to the games, which, with each progressing week, get darker and darker.

The over-the-top PA announcers who often get the down and distance incorrect on first guess.

The teams who insist on running the ball 47 times per game -- and still continue to threaten opponents with that strategy.

The elementary and middle-school kids who can be seen off to the side, playing a pickup game of their own, only occasionally stopping to watch the action on the field, where they all see themselves in their own moments of glory some five, six, seven years down the road.

The way a field turns into a free-for-all of interviews, celebration, conversation, regret, anger and exit all within the first 60 seconds of a game finishing.

The upsets you miss in person but read about the following morning, and picturing just how it could've happened the way it did.

The pass interference calls that one side will always debate.

The opposing team's side of the field, which brings a handful of fans, yet they're almost always enthusiastic.

The shy, unexpected heroes of the game who won't know what to do or say when I ask them for a quick quote.

The coaches who scream their throat dry for three hours and then are as calm as can be with their family, win or lose, as soon as it's triple zeros on the scoreboard.

The month of November. It never gets better than the month of November.

The offensive linemen, who never get as much credit as they deserve, and usually wouldn't want it any other way. All part of the mentality.

The soup in the Dunning Field press box. If it sounds like I'm spoiled in this regard, it's because I am.

The click and clack of cleats in the hallway on the way out to a game. There's always promise and anticipation in that noise, and it takes on a different tone, despite being the same sound, once a game is over.

The grass, always better than turf of any kind, and the smell it has on a dewy night.

The school spirit, which can truly rally a team.

The seniors who finally get their shot, their year, to do something they'll forever embellish upon as the years go forward.

The safe haven of a press box when it rains -- and it will rain -- that cold, cold rain.

The race to cram as much into a story on deadline as I can, knowing I could write twice as much about the drama that just unfolded on the field.

The way the helmets shine when sunlight hits them.

The calluses, bruises, smiles, wet hair and beaten-up cleats.

The lights. Always, the lights.

Yes, I am ready for high school football once again.