By: Freddy Reynolds
“Friday Night Lights” in Centre, Alabama conjures up vivid memories of Friday nights at Warrior Stadium. We remember bright lights beaming over old rock walls, parking “aways” off because everyone in town was there, excitement growing as we came closer, lining up to enter the heavy wooden gates of the historic rock stadium, the vivid green field, the old concrete bleachers filled with fans dressed in Black and Gold, the red and white paper “Coke” cups, the smell of popcorn and kids playing on the steep red dirt bank. You passed thru the crowd, down the concrete steps and sat on black and gold Warrior cushions bought from the Quarterback Club. The band enters to the beat of the drums. The crowd stands in silence for prayer. Then, we hear the particularly blood chilling beat of the drums and the familiar sound of the Warrior fight song. The crowd goes wild as the Warriors burst onto the field. Then each team’s starters take formation, helmets off, as the crowd again grows silent. The Alma Mater is played, the home folks stand proud, then the National Anthem. The teams face the rising flag on the far side of the field. The crowds cheer again, the players jerk on their helmets, the ball is kicked off and the battle begins.
As the years passed, things were added. A new Warrior Stadium, a student mascot, a teepee, a smoke machine, banners for the team to run through, a victory line, and later a paint horse and Warrior brandishing a painted spear with bright feathers, led the team from the dressing room, around the track and onto the center of the field. The horse raced to the middle of the field, reared up, the Warrior shook the spear menacingly at the visiting crowd, then to the joy of the home crowd, stuck the spear into the ground and raced from the field.
Warrior Football in Centre is something special. A chance to celebrate not only football, but the spirit of doing something together, thanking God for His blessing, celebrating not only being a Warrior but an American. Friday Night Lights at Warrior Stadium was something special. Special times when who you were, how much you made, was secondary. We were family joined together as one for a cause, a Warrior victory.
The authors of this book sought to bring these old memories to life again. To remember not only the stars, the big plays, the great games, but also the experience of being a Warrior, just one more time. I’m sure that all our stories have gotten better and our playin’ skills have “improved” over the years, even if only in our minds. But oh what memories we have. It is great to have been a “Cotton Pickin’ Warrior.”
The Bible speaks of “fields white unto harvest.” The fields of Warrior Stadium have also been white unto harvest for its Warriors. Boys turned into men by participating in a grand sport and translating grit, grind, blood and guts into making a life for themselves and their families. Everything has a beginning, middle and an end. I surely hope the “Cotton-Pickin’ Warriors” exists until the end of time.
Freddy Reynolds, September 4, 2014