GRANBY — It will be under the Friday night lights that the Middle Park High School football team will take on their rival from over the Continental Divide. The Panthers will host the Estes Park Bobcats in their first home game of the season.
The Panthers, eager to shake off last Friday’s 58-0 loss to Battle Mountain, are ready to redeem themselves on their home turf.
This game, however, will carry more weight than most. The game has been selected as the Maxpreps National Rivalry Game of the week. Maxpreps.com is the website that hosts information on high school sporting events in the United States. The site has details on everything from national rivalries to player stats and team rankings. Maxpreps will be streaming video of the Panthers game to their website (www.maxpreps.com) where it will remain the rest of the year.
It has been a few years since the teams last met, and it will be the ninth meeting between the two teams in their short rivalry history. Middle Park boasts a 5-3 record in this Trail Ridge Trophy rivalry.
This is expected to be the most widely attended game in the high school’s history. The high school is hoping to draw a crowd of nearly 2,000 or so eager fans to help support the Panthers.
Adam Bright, who is beginning his second year as head coach of the Panthers, is confident that his team will not disappoint.
“This game is equivalent to college game day,” he said. “They are physically good enough to take Estes on.”
“They [the players] have to settle down, realizing it’s still a football game, it’s still a 100-yard field. They need to stay relaxed and not get caught up in the fanfare,” said Bright.
Coach Bright added that the team must treat this as any other game.
“We need to stay within ourselves.”
Players are also excited for this season. They have worked hard these last few weeks in an attempt to make this year’s season an improvement from last year’s. The Panthers finished with a disappointing 1-9 record last season.
“There is a new level of intensity that continues to grow amongst players, with a lot of first year players they have slowly become more confident in their abilities,” said Senior Jackson Chessman.
The players also feel that their seniors are ready to lead them to a victory on Friday.
“Leadership is different this year from last year, we have Seniors that are more committed to the program than last year’s,” said Senior Conner Whitford.
More team members have added that this is likely the largest game they will ever get to play.
“I’ve been playing football since six grade and have never had a bigger game,” Senior Thomas Bruton said.
The students at Middle Park are also anticipating a good game. They have been gearing up all week by showing their school spirit through a variety of dress-up days. Thursday afternoon, the school hosted a large pep rally that included students from the Middle School. This event was also open to parents and community members.
The game is set for 7 p.m. Friday Sept. 5, at Middle Park High School. Tickets for students are free; otherwise tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens (ages 65 or older). A concessions stand will be available during the game and pre-game activities. Touchdown Alley will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include football-themed games along with inflatables. Fifth quarter will immediately follow the game at Mountain Parks Electric.
A fly-over is also planned for the start of the game. Those planning on attending the game are asked to show their Panther spirit and sport purple and white apparel. Fans are also advised to show up early if they are looking for a good seat, due to the large number of people that are expected to attend the game.