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Football Fever Connects Competitors Clayton, Garner

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CLAYTON AND GARNER — ClaytonandGarnerare two similar small towns, like twin sons of different mothers who share the same father: football.

High school football means that much to them, to any small town. It is their connection to the past on the roadway of life.

Highway 70 swoops past the towns of Clayton and Garner, just eight miles apart. And their high school football teams are heading in the same direction as well, to Friday night's playoffs.

"A lot of people sit in the same exact seat Friday night," says Garner fan Ken Wall. "You go in the stands and that person knows where he's going to sit."

Fellow fan Steve Loflin believes the continuity is important. "It just keeps everything together," he says. "It means everything to a small town like this."

At J.B.'s Barber Shop, Clayton barber Tim Johnson feels the same way. "It's all about football," he says. "You know you got the big game that night, and it's just a great time."

Johnson says the sport involves the whole community, and that's good for the players as well.

"When we come down that sidewalk on Friday night, and the band's playing, and the cheerleaders are cheering, and fans are up in the stands hollering for us, it's a great feeling," says Garner Coach Hal Stewart.

Both Clayton and Garner were 10 and 1 going into Friday night's first playoff game.

In the playoffs, a common theme is survive and advance. In life, it is the same way. Time advances and two small towns survive, propelled in part by football.


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