The preliminaries are over and the real games — the ones that go on your record — begin tonight.

This is Florida and this is Friday night. This is fall. Or, at least, the fall high school sports season.

Are we ready for some football?

Cue the band. Cheer and toss the baton. Smack yourself upside the helmet, pound your shoulder pads. Get jacked.

Football season gets underway this evening throughout the state. For the Highlands County teams, Avon Park plays in Clewiston, Lake Placid will host Zephyrhills Christian Academy, and Sebring heads over to Fort Myers.

The excitement of opening night is in the air, but so too is the possibility of afternoon-evening storm fronts. It’s the weather pattern of Florida this time of year and a perennial problem for early-season high school football. Rain, thunder and lightning.

Rain’s an annoyance, but any visible lightning flags an automatic delay of game. Teams jog off to the locker-room. Fans take cover. A bummer, yes, but it’s a critical safety precaution. Just be sure to bring an umbrella and prepare for what may be a longer-that-scheduled evening at the field. With luck, we’ll stay dry enough and safe enough to play through the clock.

The reality, though, is that for all but a few, Fridays will be the pinnacle of their sports experience. The glory days.

And that’s what Friday night is about: competition. Win, lose or suspended by lightning, Friday night football is an opportunity for athletes to shoulder their family’s pride and their community’s hopes. It’s also about the wider community: the coaches, parents and friends, tuba and trombone players, cheerleaders and pep squads.

All part of the culture of Friday night in Florida. Has been for years. Will be for many more, we suspect.

A revised editorial from the Charlotte Sun.

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