It's Friday night and the lights are on at football stadiums throughout Merced County and around the rest of the region.
All the practices, weightlifting sessions and playbook study give way to the real thing as teams take the field for the opening of their much-anticipated seasons.
What starts with so much promise will get a reality check on Friday night, with some teams falling short of expectations and others exceeding them. There will be bitter disappointment and wild excitement.
It will all take place on a grand gridiron stage, with cheerleaders firing up the crowds and marching bands thrilling them with their special talents. Parents and friends will pack the stands in anticipation of it all.
It's the annual fall spectacle that has come to be known as Friday Night Lights, a rite of passage for some, entertainment for others or simply the backdrop for another year of high school.
And it's just the beginning of the season. For all the scores, highlights, photos and more, see Sports on this website.