Friday night football brings sense of normalcy to Western Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH — High school football is back and families couldn’t be happier to see their kids out on the field doing what they love.

Mars Area High School and North Hills High School faced off Friday night. Both teams were welcomed onto the field flanked by cheerleaders. The sound of the band in the background was synonymous with the return of fall sports - a sound families have been waiting nearly two years to hear.

“It’s a long time coming,” North Hills parent Melanie Zuber told Channel 11. “We’re happy, but you know, we’re also cautious.”

The mom of a Mars football player, Elizabeth Dulski, added, “I think they’re ready to focus on the season and getting back out there and having everybody in the stands.”

Despite rising COVID-19 case counts in the surrounding area, everything seemed normal. There were no masks on the field or in the stands.

“Hopefully it stays this way because I know it might not,” dad Frank Zuber added.

Teams are taking precautions and following UPMC’s Sports Medicine playbook. Dr. Jeanne Doperak with UPMC says for student-athletes, masks should be worn on the bench when social distancing isn’t possible indoors or when riding to games.

“Where we saw the greatest transmission is when they weren’t playing - locker rooms, buses, benches,” Doperak said. “When we look at the data for high school, collegiate, even professional sports, we saw very little transmission of the virus on the field of play in any sport.”

Athletes are urged not to share water bottles and to stay home if they’re not feeling well.