Friday night football games are a good time.

Let’s get that out of the way up front.

The students love it, parents can attend without Saturday-afternoon conflicts, schools make more money and the players get the thrill of playing under the lights.

It even sounds cool, “Friday night lights.”

“Friday Night Lights,” before it was a TV show and movie was the best book ever written about high school sports or football by H.G. Bissinger. It’s incredible, about way more than football, and you should read it.

Since that book came out in 1990, the term “Friday night lights” has become ubiquitous with high school football.

But if you think back to 1990, there were very few lights on any football field in Fairfield County.

The games, for the most part, were played on Saturday afternoons and they were just as cool as games under the lights.

That is nostalgia speaking, of course. I grew up spending every fall afternoon of my youth at high school football games in Fairfield County.

The first place I ever took in a game was at Darien High School in the late ’70s. My father was a basketball coach there, helping out with the football team and I was often found on the sideline.

There is even a picture that ran in the paper of me at 2 years old wearing a football helmet and some sort of plaid jumper as Staples and Darien play in the background.

Then there I was, 40 years later in nearly the same spot as the lights went on for the first time for a Darien football game last Friday.

The crowd was buzzing with excitement but as I walked the field before the game my thoughts were of Saturday afternoons at that place.

It was a tremendous event for Darien and the culmination of 22 years of effort by so many people and organizations, many of whom were honored before kickoff.

The crowd was the biggest I have seen at a Darien game not against New Canaan and fitting for the best team in the state.

Lights are good for Darien.

They bring in more fans and will allow the Blue Wave to play state playoff games on their campus rather than traveling to McMahon or Stamford for a mid-week night game.

Darien still has a couple home Saturday afternoon games scheduled, but I suspect as the years go by those will fade away.

Some schools keep homecoming on Saturdays, but even those games are shifting to Friday nights more and more.

Same goes for Trinity Catholic, which also illuminated its football field this fall.

Trinity is keeping a few Saturday afternoon games for now because coach Donny Panapada respects the tradition of Saturday games at the school, but once the night games begin, it is tough to come back.

It will happen at Trinity and Darien the same as it has happened everywhere.

That leaves St. Joseph and Westhill as the last holdouts without lights in the FCIAC.

There may not be any grass fields left, but at least we still have two teams who play their home games under the sun on Saturday afternoons.

One team bucking the trend? Greenwich.

Since John Marinelli took over as football coach two years ago, the school has started playing more on Saturdays.

This season, three of Greenwich’s home games are on Saturday afternoons rather than Friday nights.

There are a few reasons for the move back to Saturdays at Greenwich.

First, the youth leagues practice Friday nights in Greenwich, so, playing high school games Saturday allows those kids to come watch.

Second, the lights at Greenwich are not the best quality and because of town regulations and overbearing neighbors not much can be done to improve them.

There has been more than one instance of a bank of lights going off in the middle of games at Cardinal Stadium.

Playing on Saturdays now also allows people from outside of Greenwich to attend with most other games happening on Friday.

The truth is, Marinelli just enjoys his team playing more on Saturdays and it has not significantly hurt attendance moving them back.

Greenwich is an outlier among schools with lights, most are moving toward exclusively playing at night — not the other way around.

As I walked the Darien field before the first night game, thinking about Saturdays past, I noticed something.

Up on the landing above the field was a large group of young kids getting in prime position to watch the game.

On the field next to the stadium, kids played two-hand touch in the light leaking over from the big field.

Those kids will not grow up with Saturday afternoon football.

They won’t watch games surrounded by brilliant fall foliage gleaming in the late afternoon sun.

Their memories will be of those “Friday night lights.” They will grow up with that phrase in their lexicon without any knowledge of H.G. Bissinger’s book or the movie and TV show that followed it.

When they are adults returning to Darien High in many years, wistfully remembering the days of youth it will be the lights they recall.

The same way the afternoon games are forever in my mind, so too will these night games be emblazoned into theirs.

It is all good.

Because whether it is a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon, it is the sense of community these games foster that is really important.

That sense of community is the same at St. Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon as it is in New Canaan on a Friday night.

That sense of community was strong Friday in Darien and will only continue to grow as each season passes and night games become part of the fabric of the town.

Still, it will be nice if there are some day games to take in now and then.

Sericson@

stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports