The giant banner was no match for members of the Tuscarora High School football team Friday night.
After weeks of practices and scrimmages, football season in Frederick County kicked off Friday night with the Titans breaking through the banner as they took the field to take on visiting Walkersville.
Fans packed the home stands with a crowd that included students dressed in white and painted faces. Walkersville’s bleachers were filled at one end by nearly 100 students dressed in red, white and blue.
Meanwhile, across the county, Gov. Thomas Johnson High School alumni Mike Alfred watched his former team play at Middletown.
Alfred, who played for TJ all four years, graduated last year. But his love of the team brought him back this year as a team manager.
“It’s weird to not be in pads,” he said. “I don’t care what record we have, I’ll always come watch these guys.”
Opening week in Frederick County, one of the state’s true hotbeds for high school football, brings a certain level of expectation along with the anticipation.
Winning has become so normal for the majority of the 12 teams in the county that it’s almost taken for granted.
Since 2009, six different Frederick County schools (Oakdale, Linganore, Walkersville, Middletown, Urbana and Catoctin) have claimed state titles.
On the private-school front, Maryland School for the Deaf has won five straight national deaf prep titles and 15 of the last 18. St. John’s Catholic Prep played for the MIAA C Conference championship in three of the last six years and won the title in 2013 and 2016.
Heading into this season, there is no reason to expect it will change.
Oakdale is the defending Class 2A champion and will field a talented but less experienced team this season. Linganore nearly won its second 3A title in a row last season and will take aim at a county-record seventh championship this season on the strength of its trademark rushing attack.
It’s not often you can say the top quarterback in the county plays at Middletown, but Reese Poffenbarger has the chance to be just that. Tuscarora has a big-time playmaker in University of Pittsburgh recruit Jordan Addison. And Frederick High has the chance to be considerably improved with a three-year starter at quarterback in Kisaye Barnes.
Over the next 14 weeks, many questions will be answered. Will a county team reach the mountaintop once again and claim a state title? Can more than one do it, like 2009 when Linganore and Catoctin pulled off the feat?
One thing seems certain: There will be drama, excitement, joy and disappointment as it all unfolds.