ROSEVILLE (CBS 13) — Friday night lights bring life back to football fields across the Sacramento region.
For the first time in a year, athletes were back out on the field with COVID-19 safety rules in full force. Coaches, fans and players were required to wear masks and social distance.
Oakmont High School faced off against Ponderosa High School Friday night, winning 15-7. It was a sign of progress that got emotional. For some, it’s their last chance.
“It’s like Christmas. It’s the greatest feeling ever. I get to be back in the field. It’s my last year, I’m a senior. This is the last time I’m going to hit the field,” said Hayden Abbruzzese, the quarterback for Oakmont High School Varsity football.
Out here, the light at the end of the tunnel is full of cheers. The hope also brings happy tears.
“I got the hairs standing up on my arms right now, so excited to be out here,” said Paul Mintmeir, dad to an Oakmont football player.
For Mintmeir, this game is his moment too.
“Because you remember growing up and how important all this stuff is to you in the camaraderie not only with your players but with the students and the parents and the booster club coaches,” he said.
Getting to this point was a path filled with twists, turns and takedowns. Oakmont cheerleading coach Erica Morell and her squad were ready for this day.
“Every week, we were here twice a week just in case they said we could go. We were ready,” Morell said.
But at the last minute, they got told they would not be allowed at the game. It was a moment that came with tears but also determination. Erica rallied the parents and convinced school administrators it was safe and COVID-19 protocols were being followed.
“You have no idea. I was with a client when I got the email and I started bawling my eyes out. These kids have worked so hard. I have 18 seniors this year and to take that away from them is just not fair,” Morell said.
After all the Zoom classes, social distancing and isolation, the Friday night lights give new life.