FORT PAYNE — Chris McCreless has appeared at so many high school football games across Alabama that he’s often mistaken for a college scout or a coach.
McCreless and his oldest son, Kane, would sit and look at high school football schedules and plan which matchups they wanted to go watch every Friday night in the fall.
“We’d have what games we were going to watch planned out from Week 1 to Week 10,” Chris said.
Chris’ passion for high school football prompted him on a mission this summer, a mission to visit every high school stadium in Alabama. His journey started July 10 when he stopped by his alma mater, Geraldine High School.
His wife Stephanie, a Geraldine alumnae and English teacher at the high school, joins him on the trips. She takes photos of the various stadiums and Chris posts them to his Twitter page.
“I think I’ve knocked out 55 schools so far and she’s been with me every step of the way,” Chris said.
The couple, who has been married for six months, enjoy traveling. Chris said the idea to visit all of Alabama’s high school stadiums began during one of their drives this summer.
The McCrelesses’ shared love for high school football has made their visits even more enjoyable.
“It’s been fun for us to see which stadiums are open and have coaches working on the field,” Stephanie said. “We’ve had opportunities to speak to several coaches along the way.
“We got to learn a lot about the history of some stadiums from people we’ve talked to. It’s been an interesting ride.”
In the two-week span since Chris began posting photos from his stadium stops, his number of Twitter followers has surpassed 800.
“I went from not knowing five people who used Twitter to 480 new followers from all over the place, sending me messages and inviting me to come to their stadiums,” Chris said.
He tries to post photos from one-two stadium stops on Twitter per day.
Chris said among the stadiums he’s found most impressive by design and maintained quality so far this summer include Valley Head, Hewitt-Trussville, Hoover, Piedmont and Walter Wellborn.
Stephanie also agreed with Chris’ opinion of Walter Wellborn’s stadium.
“It’s an older stadium but it has been very well maintained. There is so much character in that stadium,” she said.
Stephanie also noted the stadium at Hokes Bluff. She said she and Chris had a chance to talk with the football coach who designed the stadium.
Chris said he’s postponing visits to some of the Class 6A and 7A stadiums until football season begins. He plans to attend several games and capture the atmosphere as it should be with fans, teams and the buzz of a Friday night under the lights.
“There’s something about high school football and Friday nights,” he said.
Chris is a supervisor at Specialty Matboard Inc., in Guntersville, where he’s worked for 24 years. He graduated from Geraldine in 1994, and played football and basketball for the school.
His years spent watching future Division I college football players has led him across Alabama and even into Georgia. He watched Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence win a state championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta when Lawrence was playing for Cartersville (Ga.).
“I’ve seen some of the best players you’ll see on Saturdays,” Chris said.
As the high school football season in Alabama begins next month, Chris’ journey will continue.
He’ll continue visiting stadium after stadium for as long as it takes him to mark off all of them.
“It may take me until I’m 60 years old, but I’ll do it if I make it to 60, I promise you. I’ll get it done,” Chris said.
Chris can be found on Twitter (@chris_mccreless).