When the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) officially releases first round sectional match-ups, it is a clear and obvious sign that high school football is fast-approaching the end of its regular season, which means that opportunities to catch a local game beneath the Friday night lights are few and far between. With many schools preparing for their final home games as well as the upcoming state tournament, 16 Pacers along with Boomer, members of the Pacemates, and the Blue-and-Gold's television and radio broadcasters generously opted to swap the hardwood for the gridiron as they attended four select high school area football games.
Bishop Chatard over Arsenal Tech (46-24):
Before matching-up against the Dallas Mavericks for the second time this preseason, Solomon Hill, Lavoy Allen, Rodney Stuckey, and C.J. Fair all took a break from vying for minutes on the court in order to give of their time off the court:
Center Grove over Indianapolis Cathedral (44-38):
Meanwhile, Paul George, George Hill, Damjan Rudez, and Adonis Thomas were busy meeting and greeting fans over at Center Grove high school. In-between signing autographs and posing for numerous pictures, the foursome was granted the opportunity to watch star Center Grove running back Max Norris complete an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game:
It was also at Center Grove where, arguably, the most eye-catching photo of the entire event was captured:
If one looks closely here, he/she can observe that Paul George - just a little over two months removed from suffering a rather gruesome open tibia-fibula fracture - is standing, or at the very least bracing his weight, predominantly on his surgically repaired right leg. Though both simultaneously encouraging and cringe-worthy, this sighting indeed seems to be in-keeping with head coach Frank Vogel's most recent update on the two-time All-Star's rehabilitation process:
"Right now he's just being asked to put more and more pressure on it each week," Vogel said to Vigilant Sports' Scott Agness. "I'm not exactly sure where he's at but they want him walking around on it and they want him being as active as possible, obviously without compromising the bone."
Pike over Lawrence North (40-14):
At a fairly lop-sided contest, C.J. Miles provided some comic relief when he shared this picture of himself wearing a Dallas Stars' hat while demonstrating his skills as a ball carrier. Per usual, the new Pacer did not hesitate to include a lengthy list of humorous hashtags. Let's just hope he is also a better three-point shooter than the fictitious BoBo he mentions:
#TOUCHDOWNPACERS #MyStiffArmWeak #GotScrawnyElbows #GotGoodHandsDoe #RedZoneOnly #NuthingCrossMiddle #OnlyOnTurf #imTheColdest2belowPlayerSinceBoBo #BoBoIsntARealPerson
Donald Sloan, Chris Copeland, and Arinze Onuaku also made the trip to Pike. With regard to the impact of the community outreach initiative, Copeland told Pacers.com, "I got a lot of love out here tonight. It was cool and I appreciate it, honestly, at the end of the day. And that's why we went out there (in the stands) and made sure to touch as many people as we could."
Carmel over Lawrence Central (27-20):
Over at Carmel high school, the four Pacers present entertained the flock of fans by lending a hand with the various tasks required in order to properly host an Indiana high school football game.
Roy Hibbert, all jokes aside, looked fully engaged during a team huddle:
Rookie Shayne Whittington showed off his QB skills:
Chris Singleton helped out with food service:
And after the game, Ian Mahinmi stopped by 1070thefan's broadcast booth:
After a cataclysmic off-season, #TouchdownPacers served as a great opportunity for the Pacers to introduce their fan base to fresh faces as well as to renew their commitment to forming lasting connections with families and communities throughout the state of Indiana. Whether handing out Pacers giveaways, signing autographs, or taking pictures, the players accomplished what they set out to do, which was, as Chris Copeland described it, to make sure to reach as "many people" as they could.
With their transition to the field considered mission accomplished, next up on the agenda is consistently winning over fans based upon their level of play on their home turf - the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
If you attended one of the four area football games visited by members of the Pacers, do not hesitate to share your experience in the comments section or to publish a Fanpost or Fanshot.