The Quiet Game

The lights are on for the 2020 high school football season, but the crowds, at least for now, are out.

Per+WPIAL+guidelines+in+response+to+state+guidance%2C+no+more+than+250+people+may+gather+for+events+such+as+high+school+football+games.++Players%2C+coaches%2C+officials%2C+and+select+Marching+Band+members+count+toward+that+number%2C+leaving+hardly+any+room+for+fans.

photo by Julia Poppa

Per WPIAL guidelines in response to state guidance, no more than 250 people may gather for events such as high school football games. Players, coaches, officials, and select Marching Band members count toward that number, leaving hardly any room for fans.

Kennedy Stana, Staff Writer

It’s Friday night, and the lights are bright as the teams take their positions before kickoff.  It all looks right — but it certainly doesn’t sound so.

Friday night football games have long been among the most popular traditions in the NA community. However, this year, due to WPIAL restrictions in response to COVID-19, students are unable to attend, and the marching band — normally a mass of approximately 270 performers — must leave over three-quarters of its members at home.

Yet the game, as well as the halftime show, went on last Friday night at the season opener against Penn Hills. 

“When we walk down the hill as a team and hear the roar of the crowd, it’s energizing,” said senior running back Mason Kress. “Having no fans there sure was weird.”

The football team was not the only squad that had to adjust last Friday.

Madi Klinefelter, a member of the marching band, was one of the fortunate few who was able to attend.

“Was it weird at first? Yes,” Klinefelter said. “But after we started scoring, it seemed like a normal football game. We screamed and played our hearts out when the team scored.”

The band’s performance was also subject to modification last Friday.

“We were able to perform a modified pregame and halftime,” Klinefelter added. “We did not play all the songs we typically play and did not have a moving show, but being allowed to even be at the game was motivating.”

I was expecting to not have a season, so being able to be there was a blessing. We brought life to the empty stadium.”

— Madi Klinefelter, NA Marching Band

Senior Alli Arend, a member of the color guard, was similarly grateful for the opportunity.

“It was really weird not having my full team by my side,” Arend said. “I missed them all and not having them there was sad. But I’m glad I got to go.” 

As for 2020 student section leader, Jacob Dopkosky, not being able to attend the games and participate in the senior tailgate is an enormous letdown.  But he hasn’t lost hope.

“Our plan if things do not improve would be to host small gatherings to watch the games outside and to support the players without being able to attend the games,” Dopkosky said. “Once things start to improve, the plan is to start hosting tailgates and getting as many students into the game as we can.”

Dopkosky also mentions the student sections set back due to the current virus rules.

“The student sections leaders are upset and disappointed, but we all know that we have to work with the situation given and come up with new ideas on how to support our Tigers,” he said. 

The best thing fans can do is support our North Allegheny Tigers from the safety of their own homes in hope of being able to attend the games soon. 

But for the football team, the band, and those who cherish the tradition, it’s an unmistakable sign of hope that Friday Night Lights, in some form or another, has gotten underway this season.

“I was expecting to not have a season, so being able to be there was a blessing,” Klinefelter said. “We brought life to the empty stadium.”