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Must-see high school football experiences in San Francisco

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Historic Kezar Stadium is as unique of a venue as you’ll find in high school sports. (Courtesy Paul Ghiglieri/SI Athletics)
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San Francisco is a city defined by its quirks, and high school football in The City certainly has its quirks. The typical experience of Friday night lights is replaced by afternoon sunshine dimmed by fog.

Between tradition, tremendous sights and unique surroundings, prep football in San Francisco encapsulates the many oddities and idiosyncrasies of the high schools that call The City home.

With the high school season in full swing, here are the must-watch high school football experiences in The City.

Galileo: Who needs a snack bar when Ghirardelli Square is in walking distance? A game at George White Field, where O.J. Simpson spent his high school days, is well worth the hassle to find parking because of Galileo’s location between the Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina.

Kezar Stadium: Sacred Heart Cathedral is the only team in SF to play its home games on Friday nights, but their home stadium isn’t on campus. The former home of the 49ers also plays home to many of the games between San Francisco public schools, including the annual Turkey Day Game, which serves as the AAA Championship. Due to recent changes in the state playoff system, the winner doesn’t just get bragging rights, but also a bid in the Northern California championship game.

Riordan: Riordan’s home field was wacky in its own right. Rather than a track surrounding a football field, there was a giant track that wrapped around a field that encompassed both the football field and the baseball diamond. Part of the football field overlaps with the baseball diamond, similar to the Oakland Coliseum and other dual-use stadiums. However, Riordan has not played on their campus since 2014. In August 2015, with a field that suffered from an outdated sprinkler system and a wet winter looming, the Crusaders made the decision to split their home games between Terra Nova HS in Pacifica and City College of San Francisco.

St. Ignatius: As one would expect, a game at St. Ignatius features excellent amenities. The scoreboard, installed before the 2016 season, is the best in The City. A clear day means sights of the ocean, and even if there is fog in the area, there are still Sunset District houses providing a backdrop. Combine that with a burger or hot dog from the Dad’s Club and you’ve got a great Saturday afternoon.

Washington: The Eagles’ field was ranked by MaxPreps.com as one of their “10 high school football stadiums to see before you die,” and it stands apart from the rest because it isn’t usually packed with thousands of fans. Instead, Washington’s field offers brilliant views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Richmond District and vistas of the San Francisco Bay.

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