Grovetown High football fans and players mingled in the veranda above their stadium Friday, reveling in the 35-20 Warriors victory over Langston Hughes High School of Atlanta.
The movement stopped with the start of an elaborate fireworks display behind the visitors' side.
The Warriors were celebrating history -- the school's first home game.
"It's a big night," Grovetown coach Rodney Holder said as he followed his team up the steps and out of the stadium after the game.
The victory was the second in the first-year program's history. The first came the week before at Walnut Grove.
Warriors running back Seth Hill scored the first two touchdowns in the new stadium and finished with three. Teammate Xavier Crain threw the first touchdown pass, connecting with Darin Davis for the first touchdown catch to give Grovetown a three-touchdown cushion at the half.
"It's a great feeling," Warriors linebacker Chris McElhaney said, "to come out and get the first home victory at the school."
Holder said he wasn't going to shelter the first-year team, with the Warriors' schedule starting with two-time defending champ Buford. But included on the schedule are a mix of morale-boosters. Grovetown will play at Langston Hughes in October and Walnut Grove Oct. 23.
Langston Hughes, also in its first year as a school, scored all 20 of its points in the second half. Sophomore DJ Payne capped the Panthers scoring with an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Panthers coach Willie Cannon said he was pleased with the way his team played late, but said there was still much to work on.
"I saw some places we improved," he said. "And that's the ultimate goal."
The metal bleachers on the home side bustled a half hour before kickoff, and fans continued to file in. Fireworks exploded during and after the national anthem.
The Warriors emerged from behind their banner with arms linked. Grovetown Principal Penny Jackson led the Warriors onto the field wearing a No. 68 jersey given to her during spring practice.
Grovetown's nickname is a nod to the soldiers in the area, and the 15th Regiment Army Brigade lined the field to form a lane for the team to walk through. Col. Michael Griggs, chief of staff at Fort Gordon, conducted the opening coin toss.
"It's a new start," junior Tae Miller said. "We got a chance to make this program a success."
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