MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - High school football has officially kicked off, and it’s a season unlike any other for fans.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) gave schools the green like to allow spectators inside, but schools are being strongly encouraged to limit attendance, promote social distancing, and wear face coverings.
Friday night, fans filled the stadium in Millbrook to watch Stanhope Elmore High School take on Opelika.
Stanhope was requiring face coverings and limiting the number of fans in the stands.
“I think the folks are doing a great job,” said Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley. “Everybody’s not going to do it exactly right.”
“To put this event on tonight with these circumstances is unbelievable,” Kelley continued. “The Elmore County Board of Education has done a great job.”
Students were overjoyed that the season was not canceled this fall.
“I’m so thankful to go to a school that’s trying to make it as normal as possible, especially for the seniors,” said one Stanhope Elmore High School senior.
“We love our boys and we want to be out here every week,” said another Stanhope senior.
“It feels good with all that’s going on. It’s wonderful for the kids and the parents to get out and see them play,” said Stanhope Elmore High fan Gwen Greene.
Mask wearing and social distancing was a big adjustment for spectators and fans. Some had differing opinions on the new rules.
“We’re just glad to be able to watch football on a Friday night,” said Stanhope fan Beverly Walrath. “If we have to wear a mask, then we’ll wear a mask.”
“The masks are awful,” said Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley. “I hate them, you know, I mean I think when you’re outside and you’re doing your social distancing you don’t have to have them, but the Board of Education says we do, the state of Alabama says we do so we do it.”
Crowded stadiums Thursday night caught the attention of Superintendent Eric Mackey.
“We did see some cases last night where people were not following the public health order,” Mackey said. “We continue to encourage principals, to make sure people know that it’s important if we want to finish the football season, that people adhere to the rules as much as possible.”
Mackey said he thinks the initial excitement may have brought people a little out of touch with the rules, but he believes spectators will begin to do better if they want to see an entire football season play out.
“Yes, get out and enjoy the game but also, be sure and adhere to those rules,” Mackey said.