matt saracen and julie taylor

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TV MEME • [2/5 relationships] →Julie Taylor & Matt Saracen 

“Look, ever since you came to Chicago, I’ve been thinking about you all the time and us … it’s just that that was perfect. I know how much I love you and I know I wanna be with you forever, so … this is grandma’s … Julie Taylor, will you - will you marry me?”

The ‘Friday Night Lights’ couples reunited and yes, they still love each other like family

It’s been years since they’ve seen each other, but for Taylor Kitsch, Minka Kelly, Aimee Teegarden and Zach Gilford, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

The four actors who played our favorite Dillon High couples of Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity; and Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen, were reunited for the first time in years to take part in a grueling, 10-mile Spartan Race outside Chicago on Saturday morning.

“We all just saw each other for the first time in so long,” Kelly said in a phone interview with For The Win before the start of the race. “And to be honest with you, my heart is exploding. I’m so happy to see them.”

The foursome were deliberately brought together by the Marriott Rewards Program, are supposed to be focused on the race, but have to get their nerves and excitement out first.

“We can’t stop laughing and it feels like there’s so much nostalgia going on,” Kelly said.

Kitsch is more blunt when asked what it’s like to see his old friends.

“Terrible. It’s terrible,” Kitsch jokes. “No, I was really looking forward to seeing everyone and I haven’t seen any of them in five years.”

For Kelly and Gilford, reuniting at the race is like their own, private high school reunion.

“It doesn’t feel like any of us have changed,” Kelly said. “Accept Aimee, she’s a woman now.”

Teegarden was the only actual high schooler to appear on Friday Night Lights. While Gilford, Kitsch and Kelly were in their mid-twenties. Teegarden was just 16 when she landed the role of Coach Taylor and Tammi’s daughter.

“The show was such a great place for me to grow not just as an actor, but as a human being,” Teegarden says. “For me it was an amazing experience to be in that environment and have so many incredible people to look up to.”

Like any tight group of friends, Kelly says the cast may not have time to see each other regularly, but they keep tabs on each other and check in every so often.

“The last time I saw Taylor was five years ago in Hawaii,” Gilford says. “The last time I saw Minka was in Miami about four or five years ago. The last time I saw Aimee was two years ago, when we ran into each other in a Whole Foods in LA.”

Seeing each other after all this time, though, wasn’t awkward at all. The best friendships, Gilford said, are the ones where everyone slips back into the same slots in an easy, comfortable way.

“We’re all back to making jokes like we did on set years ago,” he said. “It’s incredible. We were lucky that no one really had an ego on thh show, and now, 10 years later, no one has really changed. Yeah, we’ve all grown up, and we’re all in our 30s…but everyone is still pretty much the same.”

It’s hard work trying to stay in touch, but the cast does their best. The group makes sure to stay in touch digitally and is keen to send notes when something big happens to any of the, Gilford said.

“I heard Zach was in the hospital,” Kelly said, referring to Gilford’s recent hospitalization for an unknown ailment. “I texted him right away, like, ‘oh my God, are you ok?”

Don’t worry, Gilford has the all-clear to race from his doctor and for added security, his wife, mother and mother-in-law will all be watching from the sidelines to make sure he doesn’t push himself too hard.

Plus, Kitsch has been enlisted to make sure no one gets left behind.

“I’ll be in team-player mode and not be too selfish today,” Kitsch says. “WE’re going to do this as a team.”

Kitsch says he might have to channel his inner Coach Taylor at some point though and give an inspiring speech.

“I’m going to stop the race at some point. Grab the mic and give a 25-minute speech.”

The course, which spans 10 miles, includes rope climbs and mud pits and a lot of other intense physical actions. But, the actors still couldn’t wait to sigh up.

Kelly, Teegarden and Kitsch haven’t run a Spartan Race before, but Gilford has down two, a sprint version in San Francisco and another in San Diego.

“It’s just so much fun to do it,” Gilford says.

For Kelly, one of the coolest parts was training for it. She learned how to throw a spear and added a ton of new skills.

“I train anyway, but for this I had to do so many different things. I had to do push-ups on my fingertips, learn how to throw a spear.”

The cast reunion didn’t happen with a lot of work from the Marriott Rewards team, who, as a global partner with Spartan Races, set out to reunite the TV couples.

“We purposefully looked around for natural pairs,” said Amanda Moore of Marriott. “We’re really excited to be able to reunite the cast of such a beloved, fan favorite show.”

While the actors have all evolved from their high school counterparts, Kelly says she couldn’t be prouder of the role the show has played in her life, and it’s a sentiment echoed by her former cast mates.

“It’s given me everything I have. There’s a bond that we have that will never go away. We’re family.”