GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Sports

October 12, 2012

Coaches weigh in on Friday vs. Saturday football games

It’s not something people around high school football give much thought to.

There’s not much a team can do about it. They’re at the mercy of the schedule.

But is there any difference between playing on Friday night or Saturday afternoon?

For Gloucester and Manchester Essex, the answer’s the same. They want to be under the lights.

“I like Friday night,” Gloucester coach Tony Zerilli said. “High school has always been Friday night as long as I can remember. On Friday nights kids prepared for it all day long. I think our kids have always been Friday night kids.”

Manchester Essex coach Mike Athanas echoed Zerilli.

“I like anything that is consistent,” Athanas said. “Playing on Friday night, the kids have a routine. They do their schoolwork, go home, get something to eat, then come back down and get ready to play. Anything that’s the same is good. Playing on different days can be tough to deal with.”

It’s no surprise the two local coaches favor Fridays. Those are their home games. With the tradition of Gloucester’s Newell Stadium and the atmosphere of Manchester Essex’s Hyland Field, it’s hard to argue with Zerilli and Athanas about their preference.

The renovation of Newell Stadium has forced the Fishermen and Hornets to share Hyland Field as their home field this season, causing some changes to the routine. The Fishermen have three Saturday home games this season.

But the love for the lights hasn’t changed.

The atmosphere, predictably, is generally better at a Friday night game. Fans, students and adults alike, tend to come out in force, and there’s something about a night game that seems to get people fired up.

Plus, the routine of school followed by football, as Athanas pointed out, helps the teams find a rhythm over the course of the season.

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