The return of Friday Night Lights

BELLFLOWER (News4usonline) – You really don’t miss something until it’s been taken away from you. High school football was taken away from us last fall. It’s great to have it back again.

Driving by St. John Bosco High School, I got the fever. As I drove by the Panish Family Stadium, I could see an overflow of people in the stands watching the Braves play Central on their home turf.

By the way, St. John Bosco defeated Central 35-12 to kick off their season opener. But the bigger story here besides the 2019 national champions securing their first win of the season, is the fact that I was getting pumped.

The reason being is for the first time in two years, high school football was being played out all over the Southland with fall shortly around the corner.

Aug. 20, 2021. Players from the St. John Bosco High School football team run onto the field before playing Central. Photo credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image/360

Without a doubt, this was a most welcome sight to see. Yeah, I know. State and local officials scrambled to put prep sports on the books in the spring as a way to help high school student-athletes get some sort of resemblance of normalcy after losing most of 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was a great effort on the part of health and elected officials (local and state) to make that happen. And they did. But there’s something about Friday Night Lights at the beginning of a school year that makes everything seem right. For students, for parents, this is what America does.

Sitting and watching high school football on a Friday night is something that has been embedded in the country’s fabric as a way of life for many people. The words escape me on how best to describe what I saw.

I would say it is a miracle that we have high school football at all as a two to three-hour escape from the outside noise of the crunching weight of the hustle and bustle of life.

Think about it? At this time last year, the U.S. like the rest of the world were pretty much in full shutdown mode because of the pandemic. There were no places to go, nothing to see but our living quarters. The game-changer, thanks to modern science and technology, was the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Some of the normal activities we did pre-Covid-19, like sitting in the stands of a high school football game, have returned. It’s a blessing. And because of this domino effect, I was able to get the urge to go out and sit with my wife in the stands of a local high school our daughter attends and catch some football.

Aug. 20, 2021. Brave on the move. A St. John Bosco player heads up the field against Central. Photo credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image 360

The game, which pitted Bellflower High School and Pioneer High School in a nonleague CIF-Southern Section contest, was just the prescription the doctor ordered. From an entertainment standpoint, the Bellflower-Pioneer battle had everything you could want in an athletic contest.

You had late-game drama. There was the nail-biting atmosphere of the two teams trading scores like flipping hotcakes. Whether it came in the form of an injury, turnovers, or penalties that canceled out big plays, both teams had to overcome adversity.

Thanks to a late touchdown (1:02 remaining in the game) in the fourth quarter and an interception to seal the deal, Bellflower came away with a 22-18 win in front of their celebratory fans. Whether a team wins or loses is not why we missed our Friday Night Lights.

It was good seeing kids being kids again. It was great to see and hear parents yelling at the top of their lungs for their team to play defense. It was good seeing the home team’s school band performing and getting fans revved up with some funky music they were playing. It was good having cheerleaders be cheerleaders, urging their side to support their team.

It was wonderful seeing high school students running up and down the bleachers and hanging out in bunches with their friends. It was good to feel normal. The joys and exuberance of youth is something that lifts our souls and makes many of us fuddy-duddies feel young again. We must continue to harness and embrace the youth of our future.

We cannot go backward and turn back the clock. But what we can do as a nation is to never allow anything to rob our future. The future is in our youth. Feeling the essence of what Friday Nights Lights means reminds us why we so appreciate our young people.

Featured Image Caption: A St. John Bosco High School football player making a cut. Photo credit: Jevone Moore/Full Image 360

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