A monumental achievement took place at Friday's Central of Clay County (Lineville, Ala.)
at Childersburg (Ala.)
game, though it had nothing to do with playing, coaching, refereeing or winning.
It was all about watching.
Steve Martin's attendance at the game capped off an interesting quest: To watch every Alabama High School Athletic Association team play in person. Over the course of the journey that began in 1961, Martin has seen 389 teams play football, all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Tennessee state line and from Mississippi to Georgia.
A longtime prep sports writer, he estimated he has seen games in around 300 stadiums.According to Ron Ingram's story on AL.com
, the AHSAA currently has 386 schools that play football, down from 389 in 2012. Martin had to be quick on his feet with a few schools, and Central was one of them. Central opened in 2012 after Lineville and Clay County merged, and his self-set rules stated that he could not count the old schools in place of the new one.
Ramsay (Birmingham), which did not have football from 1977 through 2011, also was a new addition.
Martin's quest is complete for now - but the future holds change, as at least three new high schools will begin playing football in the coming years. And if he goes to see those teams, he'll almost certainly do so with Chip Drago, a close friend who has gone on many trips with Martin while seeking the same goal. Drago said he has 36 schools left to see on his list.
"I am so proud of Steve,” Drago was quoted as saying. “I don’t know anyone who has done what he has done. It has really been a struggle physically for him in recent years, but he refused to give up his goals.”