WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – It was just four months ago when the West Independent School District football field played host to the darkest day in the city’s history.

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Instead of pads and helmets the turf was used as a triage center immediately after the fertilizer plant exploded.

Thursday night, for the first time since the disaster, the football field will be used for its intended purpose and the stadium will turn back into a source of joy.

Think of it as a step toward getting back to normal.

The Dallas Cowboys are playing tonight in a game airing on CBS 11, but there may be no bigger game than the one in West at 7:30 p.m.

Hours before the game the West High School football stadium was already full, as fans came out for a football game pep rally. But along with the stands, the hearts of those attending were filled with pride and emotion.

West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford said, “The last time we were here it wasn’t a good night… but now a great event. This field is now going to be known for something else, service of kids.”

A football game will be played Thursday evening, but be it on the field or on the streets of West, the rally for victory is broader.

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In April, the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company took lives and devastated the community, but also connected West with the rest of the world through tragedy.

Now, residents and their children want to rally around a town tradition. The annual West Fest begins Friday, and Thursday’s football game is the perfect kickoff.

“We’re all ready to move forward, the whole town, all through the rebuilding process,” West High School student Nick Kucera said enthusiastically. “Everybody’s trying to move forward.”

While there are usually Friday Night Lights in the state of Texas, folks in West are ecstatic to have them come on Thursday evening.

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