The War Chant rising up from The Hollow toward the harvest moon gets everybody’s blood pumping, the thundering, haunting drums and soaring horns evoking a hint of fear, like smoke signals in the distance. The War Chant, heavy and menacing, sounding down Main Street.

The Warrior walks his painted horse behind the visitors’ stands as the team dresses and the crowd files in.

The air is cool and clean, the sky melting into blaze and Prussian blue, one of those perfect, midseason Friday nights.

The old feeling is back.

Stand, hand-over-heart, while the Warrior Band plays The Anthem. Applaud. Get ready.

The drums thump again, like a heartbeat, like the heaving breath of the crowd. The Warrior urges his horse into a soft gallop, plants the spear at midfield.

Darkness is falling, and white moonlight washes the tree tops that rise up the hill and stretch toward the west. A few checkered blankets appear in the stands.

Inflate the helmet, get the boys under it. Cheerleaders get ready. Let’s have some fire!

Flames shoot up from gas burners as the team thunders onto the sideline. The War Chant rises like a storm.

The old feeling is back, when the players were the only ones wearing facemasks, when people sat on the hillside and kids chased each other around the stands, when we sat closer than shouting distance and high-fived and shook hands.

We’ve smeared on our war paint and taken up the tomahawk. We’re counting coup upon the Troopers. We’re ready.

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