Return of students to Friday night football captures the magic of the high school experience

Andrew Little | The Chronicle

After five long days of school, I always look forward to kicking off the weekend with Mason football games. I’ve spent the vast majority of the fall Friday nights in my lifetime watching high-schoolers pour their hearts out on the field for the game that they love, and I’ve cherished every minute of it. Growing up with a football coach for a dad, the sport has been a part of the very fabric of my life, interwoven throughout my childhood. Even though I don’t play the game anymore, I still have a deep appreciation for it and as I have matured in those bleachers I have realized what makes that experience special is the communal experience.

Last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators were limited to just family. I was fortunate enough to be one of the few to enjoy the season from inside the stadium due to my responsibilities with sports media as well as my dad coaching. I’d be lying to you if I said it felt the same. Without the echoes of our unparalleled student section, the Black Hole, and the frantic energy of a packed stadium, things just felt incomplete. I’d been waiting a lifetime to experience my first Friday Night’s as a high-schooler in the Black Hole, but instead I spent them six-feet apart from the other football families. In the home opener on Friday, August 20th against the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions, fans were finally welcomed back into the sanctuary that we call Dwire Field to cheer on our Comets.

There’s something remarkable about an entire community rallying around a team for a couple hours, and no community embodies that better than the students of William Mason High School. The Black Hole has a reputation as one of the most passionate student sections in all of Southwest Ohio, and they did not disappoint in their glorious return.

From chants of Go Mason Comets to the first roller coaster of the season, it felt as if the absence of students had never happened. The scene of hundreds of devoted Comets standing and cheering for their peers personified a return to normalcy that we’ve all been yearning for. With the rise in cases of the Delta Variant, a call could come any day barring students, or any spectators at all, from attending any further games. We’ve grown up with the idea that participating in the magic of Friday Night Lights is as crucial to the high school experience as Prom or getting a driver’s license. But what happens once that has been taken away?

The fragility of the past 18 months have given me a new perspective on the benchmarks of my teenage years. As a sophomore, I’ll have more chances to spend Friday nights with my friends at a football game but can the senior’s say the same?

Let’s cherish these moments, because while we might not know what the future holds, these are the nights we can’t get back but most certainly won’t forget.


15 seconds remained as Centerville kicker Jackson Courville hit a 46-yard field goal to take a 15-4 lead over Mason. This wasn’t enough time for the Comets to recover and recapture the win. After leading for almost the entirety of the game, the last minute kick stunned the entire stadium and the what-if of those final 15 seconds could haunt the Comets for the rest of the season.

-Andrew Little