Memorial Field is empty, again. Last year it was empty because of construction, the idea that something old could be even better than it was before. The belief that a historic stadium could write a new chapter in its long legacy of football in State College.
But on Friday night there was no football on the second most famous field in town. There was nothing but street lights and the sounds of traffic up the hill. People are walking by like they always do on Friday nights on Fraser Street, but they're not stopping to catch a few plays. They're just headed somewhere else, masks on their face and uncertainty in their minds.
Elsewhere in town Little Lion head coach Matt Lintal is watching his daughter play softball. There's a silver-lining here of course. If Lintal had a game on Friday night, he wouldn't have been able to watch. Then again everyone is craving a little bit of normal these days, so much so that maybe even his daughter wouldn't have minded if he had to miss it.
Football is still back in Centre County. It's back for the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and on Friday night four area teams took the field for something a little normal and something a little different. Yes, there was football, but it wasn't the same. There are few fans, few bands, few feelings that give off a true Friday night under the lights.
But some normal is better than nothing.
With the Mid Penn Conference delayed until Sept. 25, Lintal and the Little Lions will have to wait a few more weeks before they can hit the field again, but as the State College Area School District heads into a second-straight week of remote learning, there's an uncertainty about what lies ahead.
And within that uncertainty is the possibility that Memorial Field might be empty for more than just one Friday night this fall.
But elsewhere on Friday night, high school football was back, and with it some hope. And there are worse things than a little hope.
Tyrone 21, Bellefonte 13
Most close games come down to just a few plays and a 56-yard touchdown by Damon Gripp midway through the second quarter put Tyrone ahead 14-7. An 11-yard run by Tommy Hicks in the game's final minutes put Golden Eagles ahead for good with the 21-13 final giving Bellefonte a glimpse of what could have been.
Clearfield 27, Penns Valley 0:
When it's all said and done, mistakes make players better if they can learn from them and as Alex Hammer was stripped of the ball following a 90-yard kickoff return that would have kept Penns Valley in the game, he'll remember that play as a learning moment for later in the year. Clearfield took a 21-0 lead late in the first half and never looked back. A blocked extra point was a moment for the Bison to learn from moving forward.
Penns Valley quarterback Aidan Brinker carries the ball with John Aston (55) and Jonathan Houser (57) blocking during a home game against Clearfield on Sept. 11, 2020 in Spring Mills. Photo by Heather Weikel
Central 33, Bald Eagle Area 9:
A methodical effort by Central took care of business and a touchdown with seconds left in the first half turned a 14-2 lead into a much larger and much more imposing 21-2 lead heading into the break. BEA couldn't get it going on offense and it was too little too late as 33-yard touchdown connection from Garrett Burns to Owen Irvin cut the margin to the final score with just over seven minutes to play.
Bald Eagle Area's Trey Foster carries during a home game against Central on Sept. 11, 2020 in Wingate. Photo by Heather Weikel
Philipsburg-Osceola 35, Huntingdon 20:
A pick-six was a key moment in the first half for P-O but Huntingdon didn't go down without a fight cutting the lead to 21-12 with seconds to go in the half. A P-O touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 28-12, just a little too much for Huntingdon to come back from, especially as a 19-yard run made it 35-12.