Friday Night Lights

I have been a little bit tardy in creating a new post. I have been back home in the South, and as expected, I become a little bit lazier when I come here. I have been home for a week. My schedule has basically consisted of playing tennis, watching tennis (the US open), going to the beach (only to have it rain), and spending alot of time at the gym. Oh yes, a trip to the South also includes alot of eating at all of my favorite restaurants, but I have spent alot of time talking about food before. So, I will bypass that discussion for an event that I haven’t been able to do in over 10 years because I am never home at the right time. This event has only been made all the more exciting because of my love of the NBC critically acclaimed television series, “Friday Night Lights.” It reminded me of how much fun it was to attend high school football games in the South back when I was a high school student. There is nothing like a late summer evening in a high school football stadium in the South. I wanted to live it again.

So tonight, my sister, Melissa, and I headed to our alma mater to see the Pensacola Tigers take on the Pine Forest Eagles.

It was a perfect steamy evening for the event. Pine Forest won the 2006 Florida State AAA Championship. Pensacola High has been picked to be a contender for State this year. I knew this game would be good.

To start the evening off with good football karma, Melissa and I headed to Krispy Kreme. In honor of football season, they have created a delicious doughnut treat in the shape of a football. Tasty and enthusiastic!

The setting: Jim Scoggins Stadium Pensacola, Florida; Air Temperature: 86 degrees Farenheit; Humidity: 95%; Wind: slight breeze from the Southeast; Kickoff time: 7:30 pm; Add all of these up – an evening of gridiron excitement.
The Tigers started out slow – allowing the Pine Forest Eagles to score 14 points before finally turning on their defensive might.

PHS blocked a punt and scored a safety, and then ended the first half with a field goal. Halftime score: Pine Forest leading 14 – 5.

Halftime Show! The Pine Forest Band performed first. This is where it gets weird. Pine Forest, known throughout Northwest Florida as a redneck school, peformed “A Tribute to Tiannaman Square.” The opening number was called, “The Dawning of Democracy.” What the H?

I didn’t capture the most magical moment of the performance, though. I hope that it was a symbolic part of the show, representing the hopeful Chinese students who lost their lives standing defiantly in front of those Red Army tanks. At the end of the Dawning of Democracy, a tuba player fell down on the field. Suddenly, there were band members tripping all over her. She was stuck inside of her tuba, a lifeless form down on the 50 yard line. After the number was over, the band director rushed out to check on her. She was okay, she just twisted her ankle and couldn’t get up (she was a rather large tuba player).

How could PHS’s marching band compete with that. Two words: electric guitars.

Actually, I have to say, the PHS band made me very, very sad. Back in the day when I was a student at Pensacola High School, we had a drum line that could make you booty dance like nobody’s business. Now, the drumline dwindled in size to only six people! And even worse than that, Pine Forest’s band stole all of our old booty dancing songs. It was postively depressing. I mean, what is a Pensacola High School football game without some good booty dancing?

Without a good drum line, I was concerned about the ability of the Fighting Tigers to take control of the game in the second half. What was left to motivate them? I tried to convince Melissa to show a little more school spirit.

This picture may not be too convincing, but Melissa did bust out the Tiger Pride in the second half.

It was up to the cheerleaders (led by two girls named Jasmine and two girls named Ebony)to get the crowd back into the game. Note: back in the day, my sister Sarah would sometimes wear the PHS mascot uniform. There was no Tiger at the game. What happened to the mascot? Does Sarah need to come back and sweat up the costume again?

What else could PHS count on for generating some school spirit? Well, the standing IB geeks of course. This is a tradition that I am glad to see has survived the IB generations. We did the same thing back in my day – stand up during the entire game, sticking out like sore thumbs from the rest of the crowd. I used to be one of those IB geeks. It makes me all weepy and nostalgic.

You have to give it to those IB kids though – they certainly are the most spirited people in the stadium. That is the ironic fun of being a nerd at an inner city high school.

More gridiron game action:

Anyway, did the Tiger Pride have an effect? Well, we did manage to finally score a touchdown in the fourth quarter: Score 14-12. Pine Forest responded by marching the sticks back down the field the other way. Then, uh oh, with 1:10 left in the game, fumbled on the five yard line. Tiger Football! Tiger Football!

We moved the sticks back in the other direction. Unfortunately, with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, we only just made it into Pine Forest Territory at the 45 yard line. It was time for that Friday Night Lights moment. With the feeling of optimism that takes over the Dillon High Panthers game during the last few seconds on every episode of Friday Night Lights, I knew the field goal was a longshot but it just might happen. The kick was up and was going the distance and. . . and. . .

Final Score:

The kick was wide. The kicker was devastated. It was a very long kick. I didn’t fault him at all. Those kind of endings only happen on scripted television shows.

Still, it was a very exciting game and a great way to spend a Friday Night. Pensacola Tigers, you will always be #1 to me!


Tomorrow, I am headed over to Mississippi.

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