“Gentlemen, the hopes and dreams of an entire town are riding on your shoulders. You may never matter again in your life as much as you do right now.” – Coach Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights.
Socorro High School, New Mexico. Clock strikes 7pm, the wind dies down, the air is dry and warm from another hot day in the desert. The Warriors football team and the crowd are pumped for Friday Night Lights. The local heroes emerge in appropriate epic gladiator fashion from the locker room under a clear sky. The national anthem silences the crowd in respect before the kick-off ignites the noise and cheering. It is game time.
While the hopes and dreams of an entire town may or may not entirely be resting on the shoulders of the Socorro Warriors, the feeling of support and community is strongly present. Twice I had the pleasure of standing on the sidelines of Socorro High School stadium and photograph the warriors. Have been an NFL fan for decades but never attended a live game, these were my first live Football experiences. Friday Night Lights with the Socorro Warriors. It was a perfect first two lives game. Still wanting to see college and NFL games but this was perfect. Being allowed to photograph from the sidelines, seeing and hearing the action up close, players run, block, tackle, smash into each other, feeling the community spirit and support, the coaches calling plays and coaching their heart out, cheer leaders working the crowd, kids looking up to their heroes, smell of popcorn, zebra stribed judges, runs, passes, catches, touchdowns and cries of joy and frustration. First and 10, hut hut.
I photographed these games with my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and 18mm F2 and 35mm F1.4, it was the only thing I had at the time and pretty much the only thing Fujifilm had released in 2012! It is a great challenge to photograph a football game with nothing longer than a 35mm, it makes you really work the composition because unless the play is pretty much landing in my lap I have a lot of space to fill in each composition.
I want to thank the wonderful people from the Socorro Warriors who happily invited me down to the sidelines to photograph these games with the team. The following photo story is a blend of both games I photographed.