COLUMN: Focus, people. Focus.

Let’s talk football for a few minutes.
X’s and O’s, touchdowns and tackles, passes and punts, handoffs and hits.
And the fact that these are kids — playing a game.
Enough of the gossip and grumbling, rumors and remonstrations, drama and dirt-dishing.
These are kids.
Playing a game.
So let’s talk football.
The Wapakoneta Redskins’ matchup against Elida Bulldogs tonight at Harmon Field has all of the markings of a classic.
Both teams are on the upswing of major turnarounds.
As an Elida graduate myself, I suffered through the years of being the laughingstock of the Western Buckeye League.
For the better part of a decade, the two most often overheard statements in September and October in Elida were, “Thank goodness for Shawnee,” and “When does basketball season start?”
Then Shawnee began winning.
At least Elida had basketball.
As far as Wapak, it has been well documented in these pages that the Redskins haven’t had back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years.
At least Wapak had wrestling.
Tonight, no one at the Harmon will be talking about basketball or wrestling.
Instead they have the story of two remarkable turnarounds to discuss.
I was with The Lima News in 2007 when Jason Carpenter took over at Elida. We collectively snickered in the newsroom when Carpenter said his goal for the program was a state championship.
The snicker turned into raucous laughter when Carpenter’s Bulldogs lost 51-0 to Marion Local in Week 1 — a game that was called at halftime because of lightning.
Well, lightning and a 51-point lead.
No one is laughing at Carpenter now as Elida attempts to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Wapak coach Doug Frye has folks taking the Redskins seriously too.
Frye’s results — going from 1-9 to 7-3 in just one season — speak for themselves.
The last meeting between these two teams was one for the ages.
Both entered the game with a playoff berth and a potential share of the WBL crown on the line.
Elida pulled off the 28-21 win, ending the Redskins’ season.
Carpenter and Frye had done the impossible: make a Week-10 Wapak/Elida matchup mean something.
But tonight’s matchup is about more than just Carpenter vs. Frye, or spread vs. Wing-T.
It’s about kids.
Playing a game.
Approximately 130 kids will run out onto the turf shortly before 7:30 this evening. They will dive on top of each other and whoop and hollar and butt heads.
Then they will go out and, for the next 48 minutes, pour every ounce of energy and strength and sweat and blood they can spare onto that same turf.
Hoping that maybe, just maybe, they can make you happy.
Enjoy the show.
And leave the gossip at home.
These are kids.
Playing a game.