Friday Night Lives
In big cities and small towns, high school football is the ritual that defines the fall. All season long, NPR brings you the stories, struggles and victories of the sport, while exploring the costs and issues it raises.
December 21, 2009 Much about the Texas 5A Division II state championship on Saturday night was big — the stakes, the schools, the stadium and the expectations. Abilene High School, which hadn't been in the state championship game since 1956, took on Katy High School, the two-time defending champion.
December 18, 2009 The two best high school football teams in Texas play Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Abilene, which hasn't been to the state championship since 1956, is taking on the two-time defending state champion, Katy. Attendance is expected to reach as high as 40,000.
November 20, 2009 The Ohio school has a 20,000-seat stadium, a $3 million indoor practice facility and a live tiger for a mascot. Massillon teams have won 22 state championships and they're in the running for another one. It's football "sunup to sundown," the head coach says.
November 13, 2009 For Sunset High School's band, Friday night games help prepare for Saturday competitions. That's when band parents and friends cheer for these champions from Portland, Ore., as lustily as football fans and when judges rate musicianship and movement.
October 23, 2009 The years of hard hits have left former NFL player George Visger with severe memory loss. His doctors warn his brain problems could get worse quickly. While he struggles with his short-term memory, his days as a star high school lineman are vivid and special.
October 16, 2009 Every year, one or two high school football games get national attention for lopsided scores. No one likes to lose, but can something be learned by being on the wrong side of a blowout? Are we too willing to vilify coaches who are on the winning side?
October 9, 2009 Football is often called controlled mayhem, and we have the officials to thank for the controlled part. But any self-respecting football referee would prefer to be invisible during play. "The best game is one where the officials are totally incognito," say high school football ref Rick Gilbert. But take a close look. There's more than black and white stripes.
September 25, 2009 In Unity, Ore., the Burnt River Bulls play in the 8-man football High Desert League — and they often turn out their minimum number of players. But that's not the only challenge the team faces: The majority of the players are international — and they're still learning the basics of the game, not to mention English.