It still seems unnatural to me that school should start in August, with the late summer heat bearing down on one's head, but begun the school year has, which also means the start of the high school football season.
Sons #1 (class of 2009) and #2 (class of 2012) both attend(ed) Pleasant Grove High School, which opened in 2006 with just sophomores and freshmen. So the football scene took a while to develop, but when it did, it was like a lightning bolt. The first couple of years, the poor kids got their brains beat out most of the time, but the very first year the school had a full complement of classes, the team went 9-1 and to the second round of the playoffs.
But it wasn't until the next year that the "football culture" really developed. The team started slowly that year and at mid-season was only 2-3, but then one of those losses turned into a win when the other team was forced to forfeit because of using ineligible players. That seemed to give the Eagles new life, and they rode it all the way to the section championship game, where they were defeated by a team from Stockton.
Last year, the culture was in full flower, with huge crowds at every game - and again the team responded, advancing through to the section semis before losing a close game.
And last night, with the opening night game, it seemed to grow even bigger. It may have been the biggest crowd I've seen at a game for PGHS - and even for someone who doesn't like football (and I'm not talking about myself), there was plenty to watch and do. We were treated to the worst rendition of the national anthem I've ever heard in my life (really, I felt bad for the poor girl, but I almost had to bite through my cheek to keep from laughing), and the usual, somewhat alien sight of hundreds of high school kids there to enjoy themselves, if not necessarily watch the game. We sat next to the band, given that son #2 is in it this year, and were also joined by son #1, on his last night before heading back to college.
The Eagles won a tough game 20-12, with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. The game was frustrating and PGHS was plagued by dumb penalties throughout, but they managed to hold on, even after their opponent began the 3rd quarter with a drive that lasted almost 10 minutes. When the Eagles intercepted a fourth down pass, I had a feeling they would pull it out.
But what has become more fun than anything else is just absorbing the atmosphere. It's hard to develop a sense of community in the suburbs, but one has definitely developed over this football team. And that is a good thing.