Friday Night Football Traditions

Kathleen Forman, Editor-in-Chief

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Tradition runs deep in the South, and it’s not something we take lightly. Something about tradition binds us together and gives us something to look forward to and to teach our children about. It is often defined as a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting. So, at a school founded so long ago, it’s no surprise that a timeless game like football has lots of tradition embedded in it. From the pep rally, the caravan, to the big game, Fridays are, without a doubt, the most anticipated day of the week at Washington.

At 2:07 P.M., the excitement starts. Everyone counts down the minutes to when they are let out of class, and thus begins Washington’s newest tradition. The band marches through the halls with drums playing loudly. Heading to the gym, this signals the start of the pep rally. Will Burford, a senior and the band’s drum major, said that this is his favorite tradition.

“I love walking the halls before the pep rally,” he said. “It’s pretty new, but I think it will be around for a while.”

Students file in and see the high school cheerleaders smiling and going over last-minute details. The drill team huddles up for a pep talk and prayer. The senior class and football players enter together, and everyone cheers as they head to their seats. The drill team begins their dance and, as always, the crowd erupts with cheers when they form their signature kickline. Next come the cheerleaders, and as they start their routine, the school goes crazy again. They finish their last stunt, and no one stays silent.

“I love watching the cheerleaders and the drill team dance. It’s something I look forward to each time,” answered ninth-grader Mary Grace Satterfield when asked about her favorite pep rally tradition.

Fast forward to 6 p.m. when high school students, drill team members, and cheerleaders alike are driving down General Drive in the caravan, horns a blazing.

“We go to the caravan and tear it up,” said cheerleading captain Julianne Loper.

They come hanging out of car windows, waving flags, ringing cowbells and making sure everyone in Greenville, Mississippi, knows it’s game day and the Generals are ready for a victory. Seven o’clock rolls around and parents, grandparents, students and WS supporters take a seat in the stands, looking out unto Huddleston Field in anticipation for the first game of the season.

Our boys come out, fist bumping the statue of Coach Ruscoe’s hand before taking the field. They kick off with the band playing in the background, and no one looks away. Right off the bat, we take the lead. With each tackle, field goal, touchdown, interception, the roar of the crowd grows louder.

The second quarter is coming to an end and we’re winning 14-0. The buzz of excitement is still as strong as when the game started. The players rush off the field for a quick break and a pep talk for the next half. After the River Oaks dance team performs, the high school drill team takes the field in their famous white boots and dances while the crowd cheers them on.

“It’s such a great, crazy, awesome feeling when you just finish your routine,” said Abby Driggers, drill team captain. “You take a breath and you know it was the bomb.”

The cheerleaders then lead the fans in a cheer that brings everyone to their feet. The band plays a few more songs and halftime comes to an end.

“Go Reed!” cries the student sections as Reed Turner, senior, plays the drums.

“I just love to play,” he said.

The next two quarters are a breeze. The student section never falters to scream at the top of their lungs and makes no attempt to contain their excitement thoughout the entire game. Cheerleaders are smiling brightly, clapping and teaching the General mascot how to cheer.

Now, it’s halfway through the fourth quarter and we’re up 35-0, but no one lets it go to their heads. The entire team is focused on each play. Fans lean forward in anticipation, and all take a deep breath simultaneously. Thirty-five seconds are left on the clock, and no one moves. We know the game is in the bag, but no one takes their eyes off the field. Three seconds, still going strong; two seconds, arms are getting ready to throw a fist in the air; one second left, no one breathes. Times up and … boom! Like a firework going off, everyone celebrates! Screams rise in the air, congratulations are shouted, cowbells ring, pom poms shake! This is it! We won! We won the first game of the season! Smiles wider than the fields are stuck like glue on everyone’s faces.

Slowly, people stop cheering and begin to pack up. All is well, and everyone chatters on about how good the team is. The stands clear out and everyone heads to their cars. Rain or shine, Gens fans will be here next Friday to do it all again. And, truthfully, that’s the real definition of tradition.

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