Football stadiums are Friday nights’ community gathering spots.
Sometimes, the stadiums even reflect the personality of their communities.
“It’s definitely something for the program to be proud of,” Glencliff assistant coach Lisa Limper said.
Glencliff’s stadium, Leroy Hollis Field at B.H. Thompson Stadium, recently was spiffed up with new stands and press box. Next up, Limper said, are new bathrooms and a concession stand.
“Anything that helps increase the visibility of the program and make it nicer for the guys to play is definitely a plus,” she said.
Some stadiums have a little quirk for which they are known.
Portland’s Memorial Field at Edgar Johnson Stadium is surrounded by active train tracks.
“The most memorable thing for me has got to be the train,” said Corey Brewer, who was part of Portland’s 2000 state champion football team and a 2011 NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks.
“When you’re playing there, there’s always something that happens when the train comes through. Every time we score a touchdown they blow the horn.”
Top high school football games for Week 7
Whites Creek Stadium had a walled tree — just outside the end zone.
“We used to have to run the mile, and I remember the very first time I ran the mile I stopped and stood behind the tree and got a lap down, so I only ran three of the laps,” laughed Shelton Quarles, former Whites Creek Cobra and 2002 Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The tree has been gone since 2011, but perhaps surprisingly, the wall still remains..
“It was something that we always looked forward to being out there,” said Quarles, now director of football operations for the Bucs. “It was a part of the field so it’s unfortunate that they tore the tree down.”
Patriot Stadium at Henry County High features a large, two-tier, air-conditioned press box that extends from one 30-yard line to the other, as well as a Jumbotron that makes visiting teams a bit jealous.
“We have some teams that want to come up here and play because they want their kids to … (experience) the atmosphere and the Jumbotron.” said former player and current Henry County football coach James Counce Jr. “The press box, being as big as it is, everybody has got plenty of room. You can get out of the elements and that kind of stuff.”
High school football is such a big deal in some communities that the stadium sits in the middle of town.
“You kind of feel like the field was built right where the courthouse should’ve been,” first-year Trousdale County football coach David Barker said. “I don’t think I’ve ever coached at a place that has a football field smack-dab right in the middle of the town. Even when they built that new school they left their football field down here in the middle of town.”
Most of the time, the stadiums sit quietly,waiting for Friday nights to come alive with cheering fans.
“It’s a special place, and I think what makes it special is the community and the fans,” Counce said.
“You can have the nicest facilities that money can buy, but having the people to come to the games and fill those seats is what makes it special.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.
NOTABLE MIDSTATE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL STADIUMS
MEADOWS-THOMPSON STADIUM (THE PIT)
Who plays there: Lincoln County Falcons
What’s special: Bowl-like facility with a field dug into the ground, college atmosphere, committed and tight-knit fan base
Quote: “It was kind of a college atmosphere in a high school stadium. It used to be a terrifying place to play for kids coming in there. It’s a neat place to play high school football.” — Kelly Holcomb, 12-year NFL veteran who played on Lincoln County’s 1990 state championship team
CALVIN SHORT FIELD AT GREEN WAVE STADIUM
Who plays there: Gallatin Green Wave
What’s special: Historic, has hosted more than five decades of home games, fans’ proximity to field
Quote: “I think the biggest thing about it is it doesn’t have a track around it. You’re sitting right on top of the field and the fans are really involved in it. On both sides — visitor and the home side — they are sitting there right on top of you.” — Gallatin coaching legend Calvin Short
Who plays there: Ensworth Tigers
What’s special: Luscious grass, red brick walls, Jumbotron, bleachers as close to field as possible, great view from all angles
Quote: “Our bleachers and our stadium is built up so that every area around the field is a nice viewing area so it has a bit of a bowl feel to it and it also has the minimum requirement from the edge of the field to the bleachers. So you can’t get any closer to the field than at Ensworth.” — Ensworth football coach Ricky Bowers
BUSTER BOGUSKIE FIELD
Who plays there: Stratford Spartans
What’s special: Painted bricks and bleachers, wrought-iron orange gates at entrance, intimidating venue around Halloween, soft field, county-football feel
Quote: “It seemed like real county football. They just take a lot pf pride in taking care of the field and painting it. That orange and black stood out. It’s always had one of the nicest fields as far as how it felt. When I got to Stratford I got tackled and I remember talking about how it felt like a carpet out there.” — Stratford alum and current Maplewood football coach Aracentae Broome
MEMORIAL FIELD AT EDGAR JOHNSON STADIUM
Who plays there: Portland Panthers
What’s special: Active train tracks surrounding field, train blares horn when Panthers score, passionate football community
Quote: “The most memorable thing for me has got to be the train. When you playing there, there’s always something that happens when the train comes through. Every time we score a touchdown they blow the horn.” — Corey Brewer, state-championship-winning wide receiver at Portland and NBA champion
TOMMY OWEN STADIUM
Who plays there: Montgomery Bell Academy Big Red
What’s special: First high school field in Tennessee with turf, 117-year football tradition, large brick stadium with plenty of seating
Quote: “I think it was a big thing we kind of started and now a lot of schools are going to it. The biggest thing I think it (helps with) is weather. Unless there’s lightning you can play rain, shine or snow, it doesn’t matter. It’s been a big help because it doesn’t have the wear and tear on it like you would natural grass.” — MBA football coach Marty Euverard
JOHN KERR FIELD
Who plays there: Trousdale County Yellow Jackets
What’s special: Located in the middle of town, footbridge into stadium, large stands, creek surrounding stadium
Quote: “There’s such an aura here that you can hear the water flowing in the creek and walk over the footbridge into the stadium. Then you have the big banners and billboards up celebrating the state championships and successful seasons. It makes it almost an intimidating place to walk into as a player or as a coach.” — first-year Trousdale football coach David Barker
Who plays there: Henry County Patriots
What’s special: Two-tier, air-conditioned press box that runs 30-yard line to 30-yard line, Jumbotron, fans who get there hours before game time
Quote: “It’s high enough that you get a good view. The press box, being as big as it is, everybody has got plenty of room. You can get out of the elements and that kind of stuff. Having a room and having it be high enough to where you can get a down view on the game going on I think it gives the people a better view to call a game.” — Henry County football alum and current head coach James Counce Jr.
LEROY HOLLIS FIELD AT B.H. THOMPSON STADIUM
Who plays there: Glencliff Colts
What’s special: Old field that recently received a facelift with a new press box and bleachers, new bathrooms and concession stand to follow
Quote: “It’s definitely something for the program to be proud of. It was in really bad shape before so I think people tended to stay away, but now we’ve had some really good crowds. It’s much nicer than it was that’s for sure.” — Glencliff football assistant coach Lisa Limper
WHITES CREEK STADIUM
Location: Whites Creek
Who plays there: Whites Creek Cobras
What’s special: Historic field that used to have a tree and brick wall behind one end zone, tree is gone but brick wall remains
Quote: “I think you just knew it was there and you always tried to make sure you avoided it. It was something that we always looked forward to being out there. It was a part of the field so it’s unfortunate that they tore the tree down.” — Whites Creek alum, 12-year NFL veteran and current director of football operations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shelton Quarles.