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Mansfield Magazine

Back to School and Friday Night Lights

Aug 28, 2013 10:25PM ● By Todd Kaufmann

Texas high school football is back

It’s that time of year again – back to school.

We all remember those days, don’t we? Walking through the halls as incoming freshman, not knowing if we’d run into someone we knew from our days in junior high or if we wanted to put ourselves out there and meet someone new.

Remember that feeling of being lost, looking around at faces you’ve never seen before? You’d look down at your schedule and the letters and room numbers seemed to run together and you couldn’t make heads or tails of what you were actually looking at. And you knew you were the rookie on campus because the veterans could pick you out amongst a large school of fish, no pun intended.

Are you driving yourself to school yet? Did your palms sweat or did your hands begin to shake because you didn’t know what to expect the moment you turned the corner into the school parking lot. Or were you one of those that cranked the music, threw the sunglasses on, and pretended like this was just another day the life of a high school student?

I could write about my days in elementary school or even in high school and I could tell you the good and bad days of both.

I could write about the parents who drop their children off for their first day of school and cry like it was them getting out of the car for the first time, not wanting their own parents to leave because they were too scared of the unknown.

There are many students who will have any number of new experiences this week and the weeks to come. Whether it’s meeting new friends, dreading the next quiz or any sort of homework you’re handed by just about every class you have, or maybe it has nothing to do with the classroom.

You see, not only does back to school mean homework, tests, friends, and the like, but it also means one big thing that means the most to people here in Texas.

I’ve learned something about Texas high schools since moving from Southern California back in March of 2008.

Before I get into the differences, including one glaring difference, I think it would help if I gave you a little background so you know exactly why I see this one specific thing.

You see, on Friday nights, we went to high school football games to be seen. Maybe there are those at high school games around the great state of Texas who do the same, but California is a tad different, at least in the town I grew up in.

You met up with your friends and you could care less about the action on the field. You came to hang out with them and flirt with the cute girl or cute guy you’ve had your eye on for awhile. Sure, not every California high school is like that when it comes to high school football, but there are certainly more than a few handful of schools that are exactly like that.

However, after moving here over five years ago and marrying a Texas girl, I quickly learned that Texas high school football wasn’t just a suggestion or something to do on a Friday night.

In Texas – football is king.

Look at the stadiums being built around just about every down in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex, places like Southlake, Allen, Richardson, and, of course, Mansfield. If you’ve never been out west I challenge you to check out the high schools and see if they even compare to what you see out here.

Just 48 hours from now, the bright lights will be turned on and the anticipation of a new season will be in the air all over the metroplex.

Who will end up with the state championship when the dust settles? Who will be the surprise team or surprise players when we look back at the 2013 high school season? What juniors will make scouts sit forward in their seats and take notice? What seniors will have their best season yet in their entire high school career? What athletes will become stars at the next level and what stars are yet to show themselves on some of the biggest stages and moments in their careers?

There are a lot of questions that can be asked and a lot of projections we can make regardless of where you go to school.

Since this is Mansfield Magazine and those who read it are in the Mansfield area, maybe you’ll go check out the Mansfield Tigers on Friday night as they open up at home against Arlington Bowie. Or maybe you’re a Mansfield Summit fan, you unfortunately have to wait another week before you see your home opener against Dallas South Oak Cliff, but it’s not like they’re going far to open their season, taking on Mansfield Timberview.

Speaking of the Wolves, who are hoping for better than the 2-7 season they experienced in 2012, you’ll get two straight home games to open the 2013 season against the aforementioned Mansfield Summit Jaguars followed by a showdown with Lewisville Hebron.

Whoever you’re rooting for on Friday night and whatever games you’re hoping to take in, and maybe you’ll make multiple stops just because it’s the opening night, the experience has a different feel than anything I’ve ever been a part of before.

It’s back to school time but, and maybe more importantly, Friday night lights has returned.

Have a great school year!

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