For the first time since youth sports were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a crosstown rivalry going back nearly 60 years finally played out again on the football field Friday in Orange County.
- Well, it is game on, finally. High school football is back in action tonight. Orange County Reporter Jessica De Nova is live in Tustin, where players, performers, and fans are glad, after a long delay, a Friday night tradition has returned. And Jessica, we understand it's kind of a homecoming for you.
JESSICA DE NOVA: That's exactly right, Ellen. I am secretly rooting for the Foothill Knights. I am on home turf. And all the excitement, you can feel it in the air, like you mentioned. My team is back here warming up. The cheerleaders are out here. So much excitement, but I have to admit, I'm also rooting for the Tustin High School Knights. Because, for both teams, this is their first game back since the fall of 2019.
JESSICA DE NOVA: It's a cross-town rivalry going back nearly 60 years. And this season, the Tustin High School football team is hungry for the win.
MARKA RIVAS: A lot of us seniors want to go out on a W, want to bring it back. Last year, we didn't go so well. So we're pretty confident tonight.
JESSICA DE NOVA: If there's one thing the Tillers and Foothill High School Knights can agree on, it's that they're lucky to be facing off at all. This is the first game for both high schools after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down youth sports.
NICHOLAS FRYHOFF: Many of us doubted that we would have a season at all. So the fact that we have six games, and our first game is Tustin, huge. It's awesome.
JESSICA DE NOVA: Things looking very different, though. The musical spirit of the Friday night game won't take to the field for a halftime show.
MANUEL SANDOVAL: Playing "The Star-Spangled Banner," marching out, back, being in our uniform, you know, fully clothed in our uniforms, we can't do that this year. But I, at least, am really grateful and glad that we're at least able to be in the bleachers.
JESSICA DE NOVA: On those stands, only 250 spectators max per school. Each athlete or performer gets two guests tickets. That's better than nothing for some.
- To have that extra sound and all that extra energy, help the cheerleaders out, help the football team out, hopefully, and get a chance to play.
LAUREN VASQUEZ: Having the spotlight, I really love that, being able to hear everybody be excited.
JESSICA DE NOVA: So whether you bleed black and gold or red, people here agree it's a chance to give this community a little taste of normalcy with some Friday night lights.
DOUG CASE: We've been working hard in the offseason to get prepared. And it's been a long time coming for the kids. And I'm so proud of their hard work ethic.
ANTHONY LOPEZ: This game means a lot to our boys, and to the school, and to the city. And we're just really excited that we're able to be out here and play.
JESSICA DE NOVA: Like I said, I am bleeding that black and gold. But honestly, I've been speaking with representatives with the Tustin Unified School district all day. And they're all just so happy to bring back some sense of normalcy to the community here. And this is just one of the many changes coming to Orange County. Earlier today, people with the county, the spokesperson, announced that Orange County will be moving to the red tier this Sunday. So we're going to see a lot more things start to open up. We have that information on ABC7.com. Now, kickoff here is tonight at 7:00.