At the beginning of Friday night's Route 8 rivalry game between the Franklin Knights and the Oil City Oilers it almost seemed like they didn't quite know how to start.
Announcer Brian Spaid got on the loud speaker and said he thought they were live streaming and tried to get the ball rolling. Then a bit of silence seemed awkward until the band kicked into gear and took the field. For a brief few moments as the drums beat loud and the trumpets dominated the air it sounded like the beginning of a typical Friday night football game.
But the stands were empty and the crowd noise non-existent.
The home team had a very similar experience. No crowd rahs and only the band played them onto the field through the traditional breaking of the banner the cheerleaders made and held for them. The only home field advantage they would have was their fellow students in the band and cheer corps.
There was no meeting at the 50 yard line of the team captains for a coin toss. That was handled before hand with social distancing rules in place.
It was weird.
But they played.
Franklin has 31 players, which is half the number of the Oilers' squad.
When coach Dan York came into Oil City his first year was rough as well. It takes a little time to get a plan in place and a team that trusts the plan. Since then the team improved each year to to point not too many teams, certainly not ones around here, can beat them. Some of the Oilers have had three years learning the system. The Knights have had only a couple weeks really.
This was a tough game out of the blocks for the young Knights' program.
Then the long plays for touchdowns became routine. Cam Russell had a couple, so did Zac Kiefer and Sean Stack. Even the onside kicks were working for the Oilers. By halftime the Oilers eclipsed the half century mark and the game was all but over.
A holding call brought it back.
But the Knights didn't give up and a few plays later, including another completed pass, quarterback Aaron Burkhardt crossed the goal line erasing that goose egg from the scoreboard with 40 seconds left.
Oil City will host Meadville next Friday. Both games kickoff at 7 p.m.
Despite the one-sided competition each team showed the other the respect that youth sports teaches.
It was a beautiful end to the evening.
To read more about the game, our good friend Ed Brannon was there and will have a story in tomorrow's Derrick and News-Herald with photographs by our other good friend Eric Elliott photography.
Due to difficulties with the Wi-Fi the live streaming didn't work well. It appears the game was taped and the Franklin School District hopes to be able to post it for people to see. During these tough times and new frontiers the district asks for patience and understanding as they work out the bugs.