Editor’s note: This is another installment of “Extra Points,” a weekly series of stories that look at high school football away from the Friday night spotlight.
These are the moments that every football player, starter or backup, lives for. Walking out to the band’s beat, going crazy in the inflatable tunnel, or tearing through that oversized, cheerleader-held paper.
Teams have their own way of getting its players in the appropriate mood for a game that thrives off of collisions and energy. Minutes before Bishop Carroll’s kickoff against west-side rival Northwest on Friday night, the Eagles’ home crowd starts to rumble.
They can hear the team coming before they see them. The team itself isn’t loud — it’s the band’s drum line making all of the racket. As if they are leading a yellow- and green-clad infantry into battle, members of the drum line pound away. Setting the pace is section leader Ben Karnes.
His platoon is drumming to the beat of “Down With the Sickness,” a heavy-metal song by the band Disturbed that has been known to send fists flying in mosh pits at metal concerts around the country.
“It really gets them fired up and ready to start hitting people,” Karnes said.
By the time the drum line and team reach the north end zone, the beat has served its purpose. The Golden Eagles can hardly contain themselves and as the band transitions into the school song, they go crazy running down the field through a makeshift tunnel of band members, cheerleaders and dancers.
“When we come out there’s a lot of electricity in the air,” Carroll receiver Danny Crippen said. “Having a big crowd and being able to come out with that entrance makes you want to step up your game.”
The Derby Panthers and coach Brandon Clark modified a Virginia Tech tradition for their entrance.
Metallica never fails to get the blood boiling. The Panthers rush from the locker room to an inflatable tunnel waiting by the end zone. Somehow the whole team squeezes into the small waiting area on the field. “Enter Sandman” begins to play over the loudspeaker and the tunnel begins to come to life.
“It’s (unreal) because we have such a big crowd,” Derby quarterback Tyler Harrison said. “It’s almost indescribable to see what it feels like to come out of that dark tunnel and have everyone yelling for you.”
The giant panther on the front begins to move back and fourth as if stalking prey while being hit by pads of the Derby players. Then it pounces. The players burst from the tunnel.
The team rushes through the pathway made by the band and the tears through a giant poster held by cheerleaders.