Friday night lights bring life back to football fields across the Sacramento region.
- Our other top story tonight, the return of Friday Night Lights. High school football teams taking to the field for the first time in more than a year now, playing with COVID safety rules in full force.
- And those games happening as businesses across northern California get ready to reopen. More COVID restrictions are coming undone this weekend, as California creeps toward normalcy.
- CBS 13's Anna Giles is live at Oakmont High School in Roseville tonight, where football was about much more than a game tonight. Anna?
ANNA GILES: Yeah, the enthusiasm was electric tonight. This stadium hasn't seen any coaches, players, or fans for a year. So tonight's game was also very emotional.
The cheers, the plays, the whistle after a job well done.
ANNA GILES: High school football is back, just in time for some who say it's their last chance.
HAYDEN ABBRUZZESE: It's like Christmas. It's like the greatest feeling ever. Like, I get to be back on the field. It's my last year, I'm a senior.
ANNA GILES: Out here, the light at the end of the tunnel is full of cheers.
The hope also brings happy tears. The last time these players were out on the field was fall 2019.
PAUL MINTMEIR: Look at the hair standing up on my arms right now. I'm so excited to be out here.
[MUSIC - "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]
ANNA GILES: Paul Mintmeir's son plays for the Oakmont High School varsity football team. But tonight, this game was his moment too.
PAUL MINTMEIR: Because you remember growing up, and how important all this stuff is to you, and the camaraderie.
ANNA GILES: Getting to this point was a path filled with twists, turns, and take downs.
Oakmont cheerleading coach, Erica Morrell and her girls were ready for this day.
ERICA MORRELL: Every week, we were here twice a week to practice. Just in case they said we can go, we were ready.
- Let's get ready!
ANNA GILES: But at the last minute, they got told they would not be allowed at the game, a moment that came with tears, but also determination. Erica rallied the parents, and convinced school administrators it was safe, and COVID protocols were being followed.
ERICA MORRELL: These kids work so hard. I have 18 seniors this year. And to take that away from them is not fair.
ANNA GILES: Everyone wants to be part of it. After all the Zoom classes, social distancing, and isolation, the Friday Night Lights give new life.
Yeah, are so much more than just a game tonight. And everything was within safety rules. The coaches and the players wearing masks. The players are also routinely tested for COVID-19.