Cars will roll into Lambert High School’s gravel parking lot, kicking up dust as they go, teens excitedly waving to their friends.
As music booms from a stereo a few rows back, students begin to gather in groups around their vehicles, phones in hand to snap the perfect selfie.
School is out for the week, and, normally, school is the last place students want to be on a Friday night. But these Friday nights are different.
Football is back.
Lanier Christian at Horizon Christian, 5:30
North Forsyth at Sequoyah, 7:30
South Forsyth vs. Roswell, 5:30*
Woodstock at West Forsyth, 7:30
* At Parker H. Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium
“There’s just so much pageantry that goes along with Friday night football,” said Lambert’s athletic director, Drew Ferrer. “We have a pep rally to get the student body and everyone excited for the start of the season, and the rally really kicks off the year for us.
“It’s great to have the energy and atmosphere of a Friday night game and is a great opportunity to see your friends and the people you grow up with. We hope people leave here feeling great about the overall atmosphere of Friday [night] football.”
Though Forsyth County’s five public high schools have been practicing for weeks now, tonight’s games are the first that count toward the regular season, and coaches, the student body and parents alike are getting excited.
“If scrimmage is any measurement, we’ll be really great this season,” North Forsyth High School Athletic Director Scott Tilden said. “I’m excited to see the results of all the hard work our kids and coaches have been putting in this summer. I’ve had pleasure of going around and watching these programs, and seeing the work ethic and seeing the kids and coaches enjoy fruits of their labor, not just as the athletic director but as a fan, in general, is great.”
It’s not just the high schoolers and their coaches who are gearing up for the season, though.
At Sharon Elementary School, students in Robin Ryan’s third grade class paint spirit signs for West Forsyth High School’s evening game, the only public high school home game in the county this week.
Brett Phipps, West’s athletic director, said he has high hopes for the season.
“[Last] Friday night’s scrimmage was unreal in our student section — there had to have been at least 300-400 students, so I can only imagine what this Friday will be like,” he said. “We’ve got our hands full this season, and we’re looking forward to two back-to-back exciting weeks.
“This [season] will be the first time former [West] coach Frank Hepler will be back with Central and we’ll also play Milton, which has former West head coach Adam Clack, so it’ll be two very emotional weeks. Still, we’ve got a lot of irons in the fire — it’s going to be a fun season.”