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Falcons coming to North

The Atlanta Falcons' first two Friday Night Lights events were popular draws, both at Gwinnett County high school stadiums, and the NFL team won't alter the formula, at least not this year.

The Falcons announced Thursday they will host this year's open team scrimmage and celebration at North Gwinnett, the third local high school to host the 3-year-old event. Both the 2008 game at Mill Creek and the 2009 matchup at Brookwood were played in front of capacity crowds.

"North Gwinnett High School, our Touchdown Club and our community are extremely excited to have the Atlanta Falcons and their Friday Night Lights come to Suwanee," North athletic and activities director Mark Karen said. "We have the type of community that will come out in the thousands in support of our Atlanta Falcons and we can't wait until August 6 to see one of the elite teams in the NFL play in our stadium."

Friday Night Lights, free to the public, is highlighted by the team's scrimmage but also features a fan fest with inflatable games, a post-event autograph session and a fireworks display. Falcons head coach Mike Smith, his quarterbacks and certain position players will wear microphones during the scrimmage so fans can hear the action on the field.

The showcase comes exactly a week before the Falcons' preseason opener, an Aug. 13 home game with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"This is a special event not only for our fans, but for our players as well," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. "Our guys love going back to their roots and playing under the lights at a high school field every year. This event provides us the opportunity to reach out to the community and give our fans a chance to get up close and personal with our team as we prepare for the season."

North has experience with showcase games in recent seasons, hosting an annual football challenge that is televised regionally. The Bulldogs also have one of the county's bigger stadiums, with two sets of large home stands.

"There is a lot of work that goes into making this day successful and my staff, our Touchdown Club and our community are ready to work with the Falcons to make it the best Friday Night Lights yet," Karen said.