Maybe it was the new coach, or the chicken dinners, or maybe just the spectacular weather.
Whatever the reason, a huge crowd showed up at Moody Field last Friday night for the annual Red-White scrimmage and their first look at next fall's North Fort Myers High School football team.
Mother Nature blessed the event with almost fall-like conditions as fans were hopeful that, after several lean years, the Red Knights are ready to be a force once again.
With the intensity shown, everybody got a glimpse of hope. As has been the case since taking over as head coach, Earnest Graham made things a little different this year. It wasn't just a scrimmage. It also was a test to see if players had taken in what they were taught in practice.
The scrimmage also served as a fundraiser as the Booster Club served chicken dinners and souvenirs were available.
The first half of the event featured contact drills, coverage drills and tackling drills to put everyone's abilities in the open where fans could see.
"Usually in a scrimmage, you can hide. Here's there's no hiding," one coach said.
Athletic director Kathy Padilla was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the crowd, which occasionally erupted in applause after a hard hit.
"Tonight's scrimmage was a success. I'm so proud of Coach Graham and his staff and the boys," Padilla said. "The community is wonderful to produce a great turnout."
Eventually, they got to scrimmaging, where the white team showed it could be a force in the fall, scoring two quick touchdowns as running backs Zaquandre White, Tre Boyd and Tucker Sheridan and quarterback Jacob Duff ran wild.
The white team won, not surprising since they had the ball the whole time, but the defense showed some life as well, forcing a couple turnovers for its trouble.
The evening ended with goal-line defense before Graham addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming and promising to put the best product possible on the field every week.
There were things that need to be worked on before this Friday's spring game at Lehigh, especially on defense. However, Graham was thrilled by the focus and intensity his team displayed.
"We wanted the kids to focus on individual skills and transfer them here tonight. I'm proud of their overall effort," Graham said. "We have things to work on, but the kids did fantastic."
Players also were encouraged, though they seemed to more critical than the coach.
"We need to step up the defensive line. I have tough standards because I'm from Island Coast where they had a great line," said transfer Marlon Gonzalez. "But things went good. This is a new chapter in North football."
"We need to work on the line play, but we did awesome executing our plays," said Zachary St. Amand. "It's better than last year."