When 5:30 pm rolls around on Friday nights, Woodforest Bank Stadium immediately becomes a place of battle. The cheerleaders begin to warm up on the sidelines. The band and color guard rehearse their award winning halftime performance. The Liberty Belles arrive with the sound of laughter and excitement. The smell of buttered popcorn and cheese nachos lingers from the concession area. In the distance, the aroma of grilled meat from the many tailgating families and fans add to the smorgasbord.
Before you know it, the metallic bleachers are covered in Oak Ridge red, white, and blue and the subtle hum of the stadium lights are drowned out by the roar of enthusiastic War Eagle fans.
As any local in the Oak Ridge community would know, the War Eagle football season has been one for the books with the team sporting a much improved 7-2 record and a guaranteed playoff berth. But what would the season be like without the hundreds of devoted fans that come to support their team every Friday night?
“I can’t imagine playing to an empty stadium”, said ORHS varsity running back George Stephenson on the feeling of Friday Night Lights. “The fans make it amazing and even unique. A Hollywood producer couldn’t describe how amazing it feels.”
Most people would agree with Stephenson, as the crowd has been much more immense and involved compared to last year. Oak Ridge band member and senior Maci Wallin added, ”There has been much more spirit because the football team has been winning. As a result, a lot more students are becoming more involved at pep rallies and games.”
In regards to pep rallies, the boss of every Oak Ridge high school pep rally, Cheer coach Sarah Parker remarked, “Pep rallies are about bringing the school together as a team and family, showing our spirit for all sports, clubs and organizations.”
Even though Oak Ridge spends all week preparing for each game, Fridays seem to be the heart of it all. All walks of people come together for one day to support the team and with all of the school spirit each person brings, Oak Ridge becomes united.
Oak Ridge student Ashlyn Ortiz summed it up best. “We start in the gym all together as friends at the pep rally. Upon showing up at Woodforest, we are then a family and nothing is better than that feeling.”
With Oak Ridge playing The Woodlands in their final regular season game, school spirit is at an all time high in anticipation of a monumental upset of their across I-45 rival.
Like all War Eagle faithful, I don’t think about the season ending and thus no more Friday Night Lights. I choose to believe that our school’s football team will end the season with a victory sometime in mid-December.
It’s a great time to be a War Eagle!