Every year, just as a hint of autumn hits the air, a time-honored tradition again plays out at high schools across Flagler County and, indeed, across the country.

Dusk settles in, and with a click, lights illuminate a playing field as gridiron warriors trot across the freshly manicured grass. It’s Friday night, and it’s time for football.

Leading the Flagler-Palm Coast High School Bulldogs is coach Daniel Fish. The 28-year-old started this spring and took over after the previous coach left after two seasons to coach in Georgia, says Angela Dawson, Flagler Schools Community Engagement Specialist.

Matanzas High School Pirates coach Matt Forrest is going into his fifth school year in that post at MHS. Forrest is heading into the upcoming season with more than 100 players on the roster, notes Dawson.

But there’s more to enjoying the big game than just showing up. Here’s how.


  • Pack a cushion and bring a blanket for maximum comfort. Bleacher seats can become uncomfortable after sitting for a while, so a cushion comes in handy to make it through the final play. Also, a blanket, whether draped across your legs or wrapped around your shoulders, keeps you cozy as the sun sets and temperatures drop.

  • Dress comfortably and in layers; don’t forget thunderstorms can pop up, so consider bringing a poncho.

  • Attend any game you wish, but remember the home-field advantage: home games are fun games. You’ll find more camaraderie and enthusiasm with like-minded fans.

  • Show spirit and wear school colors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jacket, jersey, ribbons in your hair, painted nails or face paint; it’s all about showing your love for the team.

  • Follow the rules of the road. Whatever guidelines the school/stadium has established, abide by them.

  • Sit with friends to make the most of the game. It’s a real boost of fun to share the experience with your besties.

  • Support the school by buying the occasional spirit button or pin, program and the like.

  • Check your impatience at the door. Whenever there is a competition going on, emotions run high. If a play doesn’t go your way, remember good sportsmanship. A “Boo!” may be warranted, but not any rants or raves, especially with profanity.

  • Grab the snacks and visit the bathroom before halftime. Once the game breaks, it can be crazy with crowds at both locations.

  • Get into the halftime show. It’s not just the football players on the field putting out their best for your entertainment; it’s also the band and the cheerleaders. Root them on too.

  • Participate in the game. Besides cheering with each goal, participate in the call-and-response cheers from cheerleaders to kick up the spirit.

  • Be supportive, from the students working the concession stand to the cheerleaders, athletes and more; they are still kids, and a smile or kind word can be a good show of encouragement.


There are plenty of opportunities to get out and catch a game. Here are the high schools across Flagler County.

  • Matanzas High School, home of the Pirates

  • Flagler-Palm Coast High School, home of the Bulldogs

Dawson says to look for these standouts in addition to the athletes on the field: Flagler-Palm Coast High has the Starlets, a color guard and dance troupe.

And Matanzas High has approximately 180 students signed up to participate in the 2023-24 marching band program, making it one of the school’s largest student organizations.

The school’s Band of Pirates participated in the Marching Performance Assessment last fall and had some impressive results, earning a Superior rating overall, notes Dawson.

For more information on Flagler Schools, visit www.FlaglerSchools.com.


Photos credit: Flagler County School District