CHANDLER, Ariz. - It was a different kind of Friday Night Lights in Chandler on the night of Oct. 16, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on some high school football teams.
Originally, Hamilton High School was supposed to play against Chaparral, but the game was canceled because the Chapparrel team had reported COVID cases.
"The concern was we wanted to have a game, 'cause the time is so precious, and eight games, 48 minutes, and the seniors, this is their last chance to play with kids they’ve grown up with their whole life," said Hamilton's head coach, Michael Zdebski.
Zdebski said they tried to find another team to play, but no one was available.
Hamilton's team, however, did make the most of it, setting up a timely drive-in movie event, and offering a chance for people to catching up with each other while watching Friday Night Lights outside a restaurant in Chandler.
"This was just kind of our way of giving back to them, knowing they’ve had a really crazy year," said restaurant co-owner Monique Hughes.
"Since we couldn’t have a game with the incident, the whole team is here We're gonna watch a movie together," said Caiden Cummings, a senior.
The year isn’t over yet, and Zdebski says they’re still working to take every precaution.
"It’s a concern, 'cause it really is district-to-district, and it depends on what decision the coaches the players and the parents make," said Zdebski.
Whatever lies ahead, players say they’re just enjoying this special night.
"We weren’t able to play, but you know, just blessed to be out here, watch a great movie, enjoy the night," said Brady Shough.