There was a nip in the air.
And perhaps most importantly, there was a goose egg under the word “visitors” on the scoreboard.
With a smile as wide as all outdoors, Pleasant Valley senior Will Hamby summed up the night with an advertising slogan popular before he was born.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said.
The win — Pleasant Valley’s second in as many tries — wasn’t the only thing that made the night special for the Raider tailback. Friday night was the Raiders’ long-delayed home opener.
After the tragic spring tornado tore through Calhoun County, Pleasant Valley’s football stadium was one of the places that sustained damage.
After Jacksonville State extended the Raiders the opportunity to play at Snow-Burgess Field, the work was completed this week.
“Jacksonville State is great, and they’ve got a great stadium,” Hamby said. “But there’s nothing like playing at your home field.”
Hamby tallied 66 yards on 16 carries and an 11-yard touchdown as the Raiders overcame their second slow start in as many weeks.
Last week, head coach Jeff Davis turned the duty of the halftime speech to his seniors, and the team responded with a huge second half to earn a 36-20 win.
This week, his team led 7-0 at the half but wasn’t quite playing the kind of ball he thought they were capable of playing.
Hamby said Davis “said a few words,” but left it again on the seniors’ shoulders to pull the team out of their first-half rut.
The words worked, but the reason for the sluggishness still escapes those wearing Carolina blue.
“I’m not real sure,” Hamby said.
Added junior Hunter Green, “We just can’t get going. … It seems like we play more loose in the second half.”
The numbers backed that up Friday night.
Eddie Roe scored from 9 yards out on a reverse three minutes into the second half to get the Raiders started. Quarterback Lucas Ford scored their first touchdown on a first-quarter bootleg.
But while the offense did well enough in the second half, it was the defense that really locked things down.
After Section tallied a modest 68 yards in the first half, the Raiders clamped down to allow only 14 yards rushing, and for the game, Section was 9-for-29 passing among three players who attempted passes.
Green led the Raider offense, which had three rushers go for more than 60 yards, with 83 yards on 11 carries. It backed a 160-plus yard performance last week.
With two wins under their belt and rival Ohatchee looming, Green said he felt like things were going the right way after a dismal 0-3 start.
“The line is blocking good, and Lucas is maturing,” he said. “… After Westbrook (Christian) and North Sand Mountain — the first week, too — everybody was really down.
“This can only boost our confidence.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.