Friday Night Lights – Shining the light on those that make Friday night football games unforgettable

Cypress, Texas (September 3, 2015)
Athletes sit in the locker rooms, channeling their nerves into the drive needed to gain a win for their school. Girls on the drill team reapply their scarlet red lipstick in the stands while cheerleaders stretch on the sideline. After countless hours of practicing, each group is ready to do its part to make a Friday night football game one to remember.
016- Le Christine- 10-24-14- Varsity FB vs Langham 060

Setting Sights on the End Zone
Each week, football players put in hard work in hopes of bringing home a victory in the upcoming game. These teams spend a grueling amount of time in the sizzling Texas heat, and watch hours of film in order to draw up winning plays and strategies. Trent Faith, coach of the Cy Woods Wildcats, expects his athletes to be on time and ready to give it their all, both on and off the fi eld. Senior R.J. Harmon, the Wildcats’ running back, is excited to enjoy his last year with his teammates. “I am looking forward to putting on a show for the fans and doing all I can to get a win.” As for the livelihood of Friday night games, Faith agrees his team definitely adds to it. “Our football team provides great entertainment as we play an exciting brand of football,” he says. Faith also credits everyone else involved for making these games the treat that they are. “It is very exciting to see all of the groups involved, such as the band, drill teams, cheerleaders, and fans,” Faith says. Th e players also feel the rush of the night’s excitement. Nick Sorensen, wide receiver for the Cy Ranch Mustangs, knows there’s nothing quite like it. “Th e best part of playing on Friday nights is going out with your brothers and playing the game we love,” says Sorenson. “Th e atmosphere is awesome.”

016- Le Christine- Langham Creek band_photo from CFISD

Pumping up the Crowd
When you first arrive to a Friday night football game, one of the first things you hear is the music. Cy Falls band director, Shawn McAnear, says the school’s band begins preparing four hours before kick-off . “We’ll rehearse for an hour, eat dinner, dress in uniform, and load all of our equipment to travel to the site,” says McAnear. Once they arrive, the band unloads and does warm-ups. They enter the stadium 30 minutes before the start of the game to play the school song, fight song, and the national anthem. However, their hard work doesn’t just happen the day of the game. During the week, students must memorize their eight-minute marching song, along with the school song, and fight song. In addition, they learn the coordinates to 75 to 80 drill spots that help form the visual aspect of their show. “Our role as the single largest organization at Cy Falls is to provide entertainment during halftime and support our fans and team during the game,” says McAnear. The support is undeniably a two-way street. “Th e positive response we receive from the crowd aft er performing is why these kids do what they do.”

Cy Falls drill team_photo from CFISD

Inspiring Cy-Pride
Aside from the music and the athletes on the field, two other key groups are the cheerleading squad and drill team. These groups not only amp up the crowd’s spirit, they also leave
hundreds in awe of their fl awless routines. Nevertheless, these exciting performances can’t happen without days of practicing before and during football season. Kristen Schulze, cheerleading coach at Langham Creek, says her team of 18 cheerleaders and one mascot practice several times a week in preparation. “We usually have a diff erent cheer each week that we work on with stunts or tumbling,” she says. Th e Cy Woods Crimson Cadettes start practicing for the season in late July with a summer camp, which requires them to practice for approximately six to nine hours a day in order to perfect their routines.

Apart from games, the Lobos’ cheerleading team is required to be at all practices, pep rallies, and any other school activities they might have throughout the year. Among these are the annual cheer clinic, homecoming festivities, and state competitions. “Cadettes never have an off season. They are always practicing and working on something,” says Lauren Reilley, Cy Woods’ drill team instructor. When football season is over, the dancers prepare for their competition season, and end each school year with a spring performance that showcases their year’s work. Reilley credits Cy Woods’ strong school spirit and the community for always attending the football games. “Th ey are always cheering on the football team and us also when we perform at halftime.” Cy-Fair ISD’s Friday night football games are a multi-level experience that combine the thrill of the game with the sensational performances of the high school band and spirit leaders. Th ese groups strive to provide a positive experience for the fans, but don’t always realize the positive impact it has on them as students. At the end of the night, it’s not the numbers on the scoreboard that matter; it’s the hard work and values learned that will last them a lifetime – long aft er the stadium lights have been turned off . CFM

MARYSABEL CARDOZO is a football fan and Cy-Fair ISD alum and has fond memories of Friday night lights from high school.