The first day of school was the hardest. It was the little things you’d never think of that ended up making the biggest impressions. For example: How do you find your way around a school when nobody else has any idea where they’re going either? “That was pretty funny. Even the teachers were getting lost the first day because nobody had maps of the campus,” said Jerrell Cotton, a junior at Pete Knight High in Palmdale, of his first day of school two years ago. “I liked it though. I was excited to be part of a new school and be part of the first graduating class.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Tonight, Cotton and his teammates on the football team will begin to write another part of the school’s history. Knight played five varsity games and five junior varsity games last year. This year, the Hawks join the Golden League and play all varsity games. They open the season tonight at 7 at Pioneer Valley High in Santa Maria. The opponent seems fitting. Pioneer Valley is in its second year of existence. Tonight is its first varsity game too. No one has much idea of what to expect from either school. Pioneer Valley was successful at the freshman and junior varsity level last year while Knight went 5-5. Knight hopes that will play to its advantage. “I don’t think they’re going to take us seriously,” said junior running back Terrell Merritt. “We’re expecting that. They think we’ll be the new kids on the block and we’ll just tumble over. But our team has a lot of character and a lot of personality so I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Knight coach Jim Bauer, who came over from Littlerock and is well-respected in the area, said he’s focusing on laying the foundation for long-term success. The last school to join the Golden League was Lancaster in 1997. The Eagles went 10-0 as a junior varsity team in 1996 but only 3-6-1 (0-4-1 in varsity games) in 1997. Knight has some talent, especially on defense and the offensive line, but they lack depth this year and the quarterback position remains unresolved. The starter for the past two years is ineligible so Mike Solano, the third-team quarterback of the junior varsity last season, will be the starter. Freshman Cody Schramm has looked good in practice, but he injured an ankle two weeks ago and missed some time, then got sick with the flu and missed a week. Calvin Reed, a starting defensive back and running back, is the emergency quarterback. “I expect us to compete hard from the opening kick to the final whistle,” Bauer said. “We are not sure how that will translate to wins and losses this year, but we will definitely compete.” Adding to the uncertainty is the ongoing construction of Knight’s football field. The Hawks have a practice field on campus, but will have to play home games at Quartz Hill High or Palmdale High until the stadium is completed next year. Heddy Cotton, Jerrell’s mother, said she’s been impressed with the school so far. She attended Birmingham High of Lake Balboa but said she doesn’t have a problem with her son attending a new school that lacks in tradition. “I’m happy for him,” she said. “So far it has been real good. He’s happy he’ll be part of the first class to graduate from there. He’s happy he’s making history.” Ramona Shelburne, (818) 713-3617 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!