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Falcons' scrimmage tonight at Norcross High

NORCROSS -- For 130 days, the NFL lockout kept fans, players and owners on edge, leaving them all to wonder if the 2011 season would happen.

Before finally ending last week, it also left one other group with nothing to do but wait -- Norcross High School. The school, which will host the Atlanta Falcons' fourth-annual Friday Night Lights scrimmage tonight, wasn't positive it would get to until the lockout came to a close.

"We knew if (the Falcons) were going to do it, we were going to have it," Norcross Athletic Director Kirk Barton said. "We just didn't know if the lockout was going to end soon enough for them to have it."

It did, and for the fourth consecutive year, a Gwinnett County high school will play host. With just about 10 days to officially promote and prepare, crews striped the Norcross High School football field on Wednesday, and Falcons personnel started setting up and decorating Thursday.

Each of the previous three events -- held at North Gwinnett, Brookwood and Mill Creek high schools -- drew capacity crowds approaching 10,000 to the free event.

"We just had to make sure we had a game plan ready as far as game operations," Barton said. "Making sure we have enough food, making sure we have a place for the officials to go, a place for the cheerleaders to go, knowing that all the players will be using the locker rooms."

During the scrimmage, Falcons quarterbacks and some position players will be fitted with microphones broadcasting over the stadium PA, giving fans a unique chance to listen in on the happenings on the field.

Inflatables and sponsor booths will be open prior to the scrimmage, and an autograph session and fireworks show will follow the event.

"This is a special event for not only our fans, but for our players as well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said in a news release. "Our guys love going back to their roots and playing under the lights at a high school field every year."

Parking at the high school will be tight, so fans are encouraged to arrive early. A shuttle will also be available from lots at nearby Christ the King Lutheran Church, located at 5575 Peachtree Parkway.

For more information, visit www.atlantafalcons.com.

"It's going to be a showcase for our campus," Barton said. "We've got a great campus, great athletic facilities and we like to show them off."