I moved from Gahanna, Ohio to Goshen, Indiana on my 32nd birthday in 1996. Another trip around the sun concludes this coming Wednesday. My outlook was filled with ambivalence.

I was excited for my wife because we moved here to secure her first teaching job. I was excited because I made almost 30% more money in the job I landed here in Indiana compared to the job I held in Columbus.

I remember a very spiritual person told me, before I moved from Ohio, I was – based on names of Old Testament locations - leaving Hell and entering Heaven: again, leaving Gahanna coming to Goshen.

He believed this was a sign.

I figured the Heaven part was going to be lower income taxes, lower cost of living, day-trip access to Chicago and to Indianapolis, and more gainful employment than I had in my downtown Columbus job.

The Hell? Restaurant selection, tony urban enclaves to hang out on great summer and fall Saturday afternoons, not being in the heart of The Ohio State University’s athletic/entertainment offerings and losing touch with Ohio high school sports.

Let’s get to the point before I hit 200 words. I was so wrong.

I was wrong about the restaurants, and the places to enjoy beautiful Saturday afternoons, and I was very wrong about high school football.

Restaurant selection was slimmer, but the good restaurants have been particularly good. I enjoyed – while they were open – the Checkerberry Inn, Flytrap (now Artisan), Peking, and more recently (in the last decade) Cerulean. Fewer selections, but great quality among the spots I mentioned. These are places easier to get a good table, or even get wedged in on a busy night with limited notice since I was more recognizable than I was in the urban masses.

My perception of the quality of my favorite sport – high school football – was wrong here in Indiana. I grew up in Northeast Ohio, so I’m a football (and wrestling) snob. I believed Indiana prep football would be noticeably inferior to the continually growing number of large high schools among Columbus’s suburbs where I departed.

First, I wondered how interesting a postseason could be when everyone made the playoffs. Indiana high school football was just beginning the transition to nine regular season games a year or two before I moved here, too. I thought to myself, “Eight… nine regular season games?” It didn’t seem like a big deal outside of nearby schools like NorthWood, Goshen, Penn, and Mishawaka.

I believed, without researching and going on a singular theory, these people are just hanging around lakes and farms waiting for basketball to start.

I followed high school football anyway… looking at it with a snobby attitude.

What else was I going to do?

My nightlife was filled with fewer restaurant haunts. My townhouse didn’t have cable TV until a few months before I found and moved to my first house.

Goshen, in 1996, had a mediocre regular season record but went deep into the postseason, four games I believe. Area high school teams took chunks of their conference slate for an all-day showcase in the RCA Dome.

Hmmm, interesting.

Not long after I arrived in Goshen, the Indianapolis Colts (1998) drafted Peyton Manning, and I believe the success of Indy’s NFL franchise with Manning under center seemed to create a contagion of interest in football at the high school level.

Hmmm, interesting.

It’s hard not to make the correlation between the Colts’ progressive success into the new millennium and the greater focus on high school football in the local media – print, TV, and radio.

Local TV network choppers started landing in selected prep pre-games. I started to see football coaching legends on the sports segments of the local news who were quick-witted and had magnetism from the media for more than their programs’ on-field success.

Pretty cool, and it took me by surprise seeing it in what I perceived to be basketball-centric Indiana.

My wife was a few years into her teaching position at Warsaw when some top-flite squads were rolling up the wins at the turn of the century/millennium on the Lakeview Middle School field, whose North end zone upward crown with a sharp downward slope in the endzone was more endearing than it was annoying.

Go Tigers… another score in your oddly landscaped North end zone. Interesting again.

My thoughts move toward the years ahead because of limited copy space, and to further extol the joys of high school football I did not believe I’d experience once I moved here.

By 2011 I preferred Tiger football over dinners and cocktail parties even when my son was playing scholastic football . I remember my sister coming to town to see my son play pee-wee football but enjoying the consolation of not hosting company Friday night since she was spending the evening at my sister’s place on the St. Joe River. Instead, I enjoyed what turned out to be a thrilling Tiger win over NorthWood at the Tiger Athletic Complex.

If I couldn’t get to a game because I was working late on a Friday, I’d have the broadcast on the radio, or running over the Internet to catch the action while I burned midnight oil.

My perceived journey to high school football Hell upon arrival in Northern Indiana in 1996 was a very erroneous take. I was already in heaven announcing sub-varsity and middle school games and covering area teams including the Tigers in the most recent years.

I’ll begin my second season in the Fisher Field press box when the Tigers scrimmage Fort Wayne North Side August 12 followed by an unusual stretch of three straight regular season home games.

I feel like I’m sitting down to a bottomless bowl of my wife’s slumgullian, something I eat for all three of the day’s meals until I’ve depleted the contents from the huge pot. Pure Heaven.

If I’m already in Heaven, foreshadowed by the comment made to me 26 years ago in Columbus, does a Friday seat in the Fisher Field press box behind the mic equate to Heaven’s undisclosed concierge level?

Maybe so. I’m already… ready.