The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


Unsung heroes of Friday Night Lights

Chase Dodson
Although the football team takes the headlines on Friday Nights, the support they receive from cheer, marching band and dance is often overlooked.

Every home game, Center Grove community members and football fans alike gather in Ray Skillman stadium to watch the Trojans compete with the top-ranked teams in the state as well as the top-ranked teams on the national level. While the main attraction is the football games themselves, the support in the stands and sidelines from the dancers, marching band, student section and cheerleaders contribute to making Friday nights memorable and electric for all in attendance. 

Senior defensive back Connor Cannon finds the energy in the stadium and its surroundings valuable and beneficial to the team’s performance. 

“It’s really cool to see the support that we have as a team,” Cannon said. “It makes you realize just how important it is to the community, so it makes you want to go out there and win.”

The dance team can be found spiriting in the north endzone. Junior Aubrey Ellis, a member, puts a lot of work into learning choreography for the sideline dances along with the pre-game performance. 

“Our routines take lots of practice inside and outside of normal practice time,” Ellis said. “We have to send videos to each other of us doing the dance to make sure we remember the dance and any corrections made.” 

Ellis’s preparation for the games usually involves staying hydrated during the school day to prepare for the heat, going over any routines, listening to music and putting on the uniform and makeup. All of this preparation allows Ellis to enjoy the atmosphere on the sidelines. 

“The energy on the sidelines is very intense,” Ellis said. “When you’re so close to the guys it makes it so much more exciting because you feel like you’re really in the game. I can always hear the fans behind me and they get so excited during the plays, adding to the fun energy of the game.” 

Additionally, she believes that this support helps boost the team’s morale. 

“The energy from the sidelines and the fans is felt by all the players, and I think it gives them an important sense of pride and confidence,” Ellis said. 

Playing their instruments and performing their complex halftime routine, the marching band provides the soundtrack for Friday night games. Freshman percussionist J Stout prepares during the week to perform under the stadium lights. 

“We do both full band and sectional rehearsals, which is when you get together with the people in your section and practice together,” Stout said. 

The band finds time to rehearse and fuel their bodies before their performances at Ray Skillman Stadium.       

“We have a quick rehearsal after school,” Stout said. “Then, we have dinner provided by the band families, which is important because the games are long, and we’re not allowed to eat during the game. We want to have enough energy before halftime.”   

Stout finds the energy in the stadium facilitates the excitement and enjoyment of the Friday night experience on the sidelines. 

“It’s fun to perform in front of a lot of people,” Stout said. “It brings a lot of energy as opposed to just a usual practice rehearsal. I think us playing the songs helps and just having a large number of people to support our team on the field.” 

With their chants, section themes, and motivating cheers, the student section is a key contributor to the atmosphere and the student experience. Junior Eddie Goss is one of the many student section leaders who has contributed to the student section’s vibrant spirit.

“I feel like the student section greatly contributes to the energy and atmosphere of the game since we are loud and do chants that hype up the fans and the team,” said Goss. “We can cause the team to have all the momentum in the world if we are loud and can spread it to the other fans around us. But, if we are quiet and just trying to mess around, then the team could slow down and won’t have enough energy to put up points.”

It takes a sociable student to be capable of leading such a large student body, but Goss and the other student section leaders put in the work to make Friday nights memorable for all students.

“Being a student section leader isn’t that hard,” said Goss. “The responsibilities I have are to be loud, know when each cheer is, and the appropriate time to start it. Cheering on a football team combines two of my favorite things: football and hanging out with my friends.”

The cheer team stands in front of the student section – stunting, cheering and tumbling. They provide a great deal of spirit to Friday night football games. Hours of practice and discipline are required for the team to deliver their performances on the track. 

“Sometimes [practices] are very stressful, but our coach makes a very planned out schedule so that we stay focused and improve throughout the week,” sophomore varsity cheerleader Selia Peters said. 

Prepping for these thrilling nights beforehand is an important aspect for the sophomore cheerleader. 

 “I usually like to get in the right mindset, so I think about what I want to do well and improve on from the last game,” said Peters. “Things like stunting and tumbling are some I think about, and our coach usually sends out reminders on what to improve on.” 

Peters enjoys the connection between the fans and cheerleaders on the sidelines. The sidelines also form a special connection between the cheerleaders themselves. 

“I love looking at the fans who enjoy watching and seeing us,” Peters said, “I also enjoy the team coming together when we score. I know that’s not really on us, but it’s exciting to feel that through the players on the field.” 

In the face of adversity on the field, the cheerleaders play a key role in keeping the atmosphere of Ray Skillman lifted and hopeful. 

“When games aren’t going our way, we try to get super energetic even if it can be hard sometimes,” Peters says. “We try to lift up the crowd and bring the people in the stands together.” 

The energy of Ray Skillman stadium is assisted by these student groups who contribute their time and effort into creating the atmosphere. These groups provide entertainment and support that is recognized by all who walk through the stadium gates. 

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