friday nights

Bring up Friday nights to Willie Brooks and he lights up. The Riverdale High School Head Football Coach has a spiritual attachment to football.

“Friday and Saturday nights here is like religion,” he says.

And from people all across the country that is the feeling you get. High School Football is not just a sport. It’s a community experience.

If Friday nights are like religion, then you’re going to need some ministers. And just off of Route 37 in Baton Rouge is where St. Helena Head Coach and Athletic Director Brandon Brown prepares his sermon.

“It’s kind of like, it’s God,” he says raising his hand in the air “and then there’s football,” he says lowering his hand slightly. “For those three hours on a Friday night everyone puts everything aside, whether it’s race, whether it’s religion. You put your own pride to the side, you put everything to the side and everyone in the community comes together for that Friday night.”

And in times when unrest and disorder fill our televisions and our social media feeds, that togetherness becomes even more important. Louisiana Attorney Locke Meredith thinks sports can be a remedy for some of our society’s ills. “Sports in America is one of those rare things that brings everybody together. That’s why sports is such a valuable tool to society – to America.”

For more stories on high school football’s important role in communities across America, visit