Masked fans cheer HHS’s 1st game on artificial turf

SUNRISE SUMMIT — The long-awaited 1st football game of the season (on brand-new turf) kicked off Friday night at 7 p.m., and while some things were painfully familiar, there was an energy shift in the stadium.

Many of the fans wore masks, which makes cheering for the home squad a little more difficult than in past years. Neither the home side or the Frankfort Falcons side were boisterous or rowdy, but with the limited-attendance policies in place for sporting events, only immediate family members of Trojan athletes were allowed. The sparse sounds of cheering were punctuated with the loud “clang” of a cowbell or 2, rang by Hampshire parents.

The bright green of Hampshire was splashed all around the stands, with some fans wearing official HHS Trojan masks and gaiters.

“There’s definitely a new definition to the word ‘normal,’” HHS principal Mike Dufrene admitted, wearing his own green HHS mask. “It’s great to see the students out there, but it’s hard to tell emotions with masks. Are they excited? Are they happy to be here?”

With so much changing around athletics and academics, there was an element of relief to see a few familiar mainstays of Friday night lights at Hampshire: an energetic cheer squad, a passionate marching band and families who came from all over the county to support their kids.

Friday night was also senior night for fall sports, a definite shift from the last-home-game-of-the-season senior nights of pre-pandemic Hampshire athletics. Senior football players, cheerleaders and band members lined up with their families to walk across the new Rannells Field.

“It’s a little different for sure, having senior night on the 1st game of the year,” said Dufrene with a laugh.

With some families perched on the hill above Rannells Field, some making themselves at home in the stands and all of them rooting for the Green and White, it was comforting to see glimpses of normalcy under the lights on the field Friday night.

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