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Buford High to host Atlanta Falcons' annual Friday Night Lights scrimmage Aug. 7
Free event open to public, includes fireworks display
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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, left, and head coach Dan Quinn walk to the field during minicamp Wednesday in Flowery Branch. - photo by Curtis Compton

Atlanta Falcons' 2015 training camp

Friday, July 31: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Monday, Aug. 3: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Tuesday, Aug. 4: Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Thursday, Aug. 6: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Friday, Aug. 7: KIA Motors “Friday Night Lights” (Buford, Georgia) (open to the public)

Saturday, Aug. 8: Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Sunday, Aug. 9: Practice 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, Aug. 10: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Thursday, Aug. 13: Practice 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, Aug. 14: Falcons vs. Tennessee Titans (Georgia Dome) (7 p.m.)

Saturday, Aug. 15: Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Sunday, Aug. 16: Walkthrough (closed to the public)

Monday, Aug. 17: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Tuesday, Aug. 18: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Wednesday, Aug. 19: Practice 10:00 a.m. – Noon (open to the public)

Tom Riden Stadium has played host to plenty of elite high school football players during Buford High School’s run to 10 state championships over the past 14 seasons.

Now Buford’s football venue gets its turn to showcase some of the biggest stars at the sport’s highest level.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Friday the Kia Motors Friday Night Lights showcase, highlighted by a team scrimmage, will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Buford High. The free event is open to the public, includes a fireworks display after the scrimmage, and typically boasts inflatable games and an autograph session.

“We’re so close to their facility, I think the logistics work great for them, and certainly on our end there’s excitement with the new coaching staff (under first-year head coach Dan Quinn) and the new direction of the program,” Buford athletic director Dexter Wood said.

“For them to kind of showcase their first big event (of the season) in our stadium, there’s certainly a lot of excitement for the community.”

Buford becomes the seventh Gwinnett County school to host the scrimmage since the inaugural event took place at Mill Creek in 2008.

Gainesville’s City Park Stadium, which welcomed the Falcons in 2013, has been the only host site outside Gwinnett during the event’s existence.

Like Gainesville, Buford possesses a slightly smaller venue than other past host sites like Brookwood, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge.

Wood said he believes Tom Riden Stadium can accommodate as many as 6,500 fans and offers other advantages.

“I know we’ve been considered by the Falcons over the years and that (our size) is probably the reason (it hasn’t happened until now),” Wood said. “Our stadium was built when we were a (Class) A school.

“Like Gainesville, I think we have a lot of standing room space and a lot of parking area. I think that’s a realasset for (the Falcons).”

The Falcons made the Friday Night Lights announcement when they released the 2015 XFINITY Training Camp schedule.

Atlanta’s 50th training camp will have select practices open to the public from July 31 until Aug. 19.

The Falcons will conduct 33 sessions, including walkthroughs and practices, at their training facility in Flowery Branch.

Wood believes Friday Night Lights will offer entertainment for more than just hardcore NFL fans.

“It’s kind of a community event,” Wood said. “I think that’s the thing that’s exciting.

“The fireworks after the game will probably match what we see at the (Mall of Georgia) over the Fourth of July. This is really a special thing, not just a pro football event.”

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