Friday Night Lights Brought to Life Thanks to the Student Section

By Tyler Gutwein, staff`

As first semester finals are coming to an end, the beginning of the semester seems to have been so far away. As we wrap ourselves up in our winter coats and pull on our boots, it seems crazy that we were all cheering on our football team in the stands a mere four months ago. The rush of football season doesn’t have to end, though. The rush of the student section is special, but can be extended to the rest of the year. The student section for football, however, will always have a special place in our hearts.

In a game of inches and momentum, even the slightest change can make the difference and turn a win into a terrible defeat. A huge part of a football game is the crowd. A small boost from the crowd is all that is needed to ignite a sideline which translates onto the field. That’s why an away game can be so difficult for a team to adjust to building their own momentum. Many players try to use the booing at them to build energy and gain some confidence. The way a team gets demoralized throughout a game is exacerbated by hearing the other crowd get on their feet and yell for their team.

When a student section goes quiet, normally due to a team getting beat. It forces the home team to quickly adjust their mindset to building their own momentum. Unfortunately, this is during the lows of a game, making it harder to make the switch. In fact, if in the course of a game, the home team loses momentum and the crowd goes quiet, the away almost has an advantage of already having been in the mindset of taking control of their own energy.

Gus Hartwig, a junior offensive lineman, said, “Having a big crowd definitely helps the players’ energy and keeps everyone into the game. If we have a loud crowd, it can help during the game. It can make it hard for the other team if our crowd is really loud when we are on defense.”

An example of this are junior varsity (JV) games. They are usually played on Saturdays, and can be played less than 12 hours after the varsity game has ended. The atmosphere is much different compared to the varsity game due to a smaller crowd and the games being played in the morning. Bennett Decoursey is a sophomore offensive lineman and dresses for the varsity game and dresses for the JV game the next day

“JV is a lot different from varsity because you don’t have a whole day to prepare and there’s not a big crowd that’s watching you, It’s a lot more laid back and chill,” Decoursey said. “You have to make it (energy) yourself and since there’s not a lot of people playing, it’s hard to get everyone hyped up.”

A game like Eagle Fest shows how much a team can do when they carry momentum thanks to a crowd. In that game, the crowd was in the game and it was showing on the field. However, a game like Zionsville at Westfield shows how a crowd made the difference. An early interception in the game caused the boisterous Westfield fan base to erupt and force Zionsville to answer. This early game swing was all the difference needed for Westfield to take control and ultimately win the game. The crowd also made it hard to hear the quarterback and can get a team to false start. That’s why it is so crucial for a fan base to back a team no matter what. Because the response they get from the crowd has a direct impact on the game.

But, this is true of every sport. The rush of the student section at a football game is very special, but can be extended to all sports.