The excitement of high school football, which starts Friday in North Carolina, brings communities together unlike any other sport.
That’s part of what draws us to high school football.
Optimism permeates small and united communities, such as Bunn, and those as large as Raleigh.
There is no such thing as year-round football, no AAU circuit or club teams.
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Success is not out of a player’s grasp because of socioeconomic status.
Last year, area conference championships were won by schools with small percentages of students with free and reduced lunch – Green Hope and Panther Creek – and by two with the highest – Hillside and Southern Durham.
Everyone enters the year thinking that they’ve got a shot. All that’s needed, in theory, is hard work and a little luck.
Goals vary from year to year and community to community.
Wake Forest wants a state championship.
Cary, and others on losing skids, just want a win.
Carrboro wants a playoff bid.
Lee County and Southern Lee want bragging rights against each other.
Northern Durham has history it’s trying to live up to.
Rolesville is creating its own.
East Chapel Hill, which folded its team late last season, is measuring success in a much different way.
For this season, it’s just good to have football back in town.
In Bunn, the townspeople helped build the stadium.
In Clayton, the citizens shoveled snow so it could host a 1989 championship game.
The population of Princeton seems to double for a playoff game.
Garner was said to be a ghost town in 1987 when the Trojans won a state title as citizens flocked to in Charlotte to witness history.
Friday night is also a chance to see the purest form of competition left.
The coach could be your son or daughter’s history teacher.
The game-winning play might be made by the kid next door.
Very few players on the field will play in college, but all are making memories and learning life lessons that will last beyond the Friday night lights.
What happens between the lines, which are sometimes painted by the coaches themselves – ends up positively affecting the community represented on the jerseys.
No wonder we’re drawn to it year after year.
A look back at Friday’s action and what lies ahead for area teams in Week 2.