Joliet Catholic gets fired up at a football game last season.
Joliet Catholic gets fired up at a football game last season. — Shaw Media file photo

When I first tried to figure out the landscape of the state high school football scene, the internet was in its infancy.

So much so, that my managing editor at the time refused to let our information services director connect all of the office computers to the internet because he thought we might “waste too much time.” (Maybe he was on to something).

As such, if I needed to try to track down missing scores or attempt to find out if a talented running back in a different part of the state did indeed go down with a season-ending injury, my options were limited. More often than not I was forced to go back into the server room that was often 20 degrees colder or hotter than you wanted it to be at all times, as I scoured the internet in search of information nuggets that I didn’t get from the teletype file of scores I printed out. (Yes, I’m a dinosaur).

Obviously over time the ability to collect information has improved and I’m no longer rolling around a server room on a chair that had three functional wheels and a light overhead that never, ever stopped flickering, but one thing in the process never has totally changed.

If you are interested in high school football, the ability to find out everything you want to know, you can’t do it all in one place. Don’t get me wrong, there are some tremendous resources out there, but there’s still a thirst for information that hasn’t always been quenched.

And that’s why I couldn’t be any more excited about the introduction of FridayNightDrive.com, a comprehensive look at the game of high school football from all angles, which is up and running as you read this.

Are you already a Shaw Media print or digital subscriber? We have great news: you get free access to FridayNightDrive.com. Just sign in with your current digital credentials and you’ll get unlimited access.

If you’re a print subscriber and need to activate your digital account, go to theherald-news.com/login to get started. Not a current subscriber? You can sign up for Friday Night Drive for a limited-time subscription rate of just $2.49 a month (billed annually): a 40% savings.

For me, the evolution of this website is nothing short of amazing. It’s a playground for me, and I feel fortunate to be working alongside a group of people that share my passion for this endeavor.

When I completed my first playoff projection in 1992, I thought it was something a few people might be interested in. In time, I realized I was not tapping into a small niche group. People reached out from all over the state wanting to know what information I could provide. It’s been humbling, but more importantly it has been fun.

Those same people would almost always preface whatever they might ask with “I don’t want to bother you, but I was wondering ...”

First, no question was ever or has even been a bother. I’m passionate about this, and I wouldn’t put in countless hours on it if I wasn’t and if I didn’t enjoy answering questions and interacting with people who enjoy this as I do. (Although the person that asked me to take a selfie with them at the state finals a few years ago was an odd request).

Secondly, if you have questions now, ask away. If I don’t know the answer, odds are someone on the FridayNightDrive team may. And if they don’t, we’ll try and find out.

I referred to FridayNightDrive as a playground earlier in this column, I encourage you to come and join the fun.

There’s plenty of room on the slide.