When you attend a high school football game, you see some amazing athletes, but many more people work behind the scenes to allow the football game to take place. There is the stadium ground crew, the volunteers manning the ticket booth and concession stands. The chain gang is another group that receives little recognition.
The chain gang is the group that is responsible for holding the first down markers on the sidelines, so the teams know where they have to reach to receive a first down. They also keep track of which down it is for the teams. In some areas they request volunteers from the stands to man the chains, but Hernando High has had consistency on the chain gangs.
The current chain gang Bill Blair, Doug Chorvat, Mike Steele, Mikey Steele Jr manning the sideline for Hernando High has been at it since the 2004 season. Mikey joined the gang a little later when he was around 5 years old.
The chain gang works hard to avoid mistakes because they take personal pride in the job that they do. It is important for the players to avoid mistakes, since they rely on the chains to know where they have to reach for a first down. If the first down marker is in the wrong place the player might not know that they need to fight hard to achieve another foot for the first down.
Mike Steele was a manager for the Hernando High football team before becoming a member of the chain gang. Over time he has come to love football. He said that he, “Loved the experience way before the game.” He is right you don’t even have to enjoy football to love the experience of a Friday night high school football game.
Last year the Hernando High Chain gang with the help of Patrick Skipper were the chain gang for the Weeki Wachee High School away game.
The Hernando High chain gang has seen a significant amount of consistency. For more than 20 years until the 1990s Harry Timmons and his father were members. The chain gang at that time was Harry Timmons Sr, Harry Timmons Jr, Keith Looper, Gary Biggart, and Chuck Yoder.
These men have given up their Friday nights during home games to help the game run smoothly. Their experience and diligence allows the game to be decided by the actions of the players on the field. This allows everyone to come to love the experience of a high school football game.