2011 Nebraska & Missouri (Week 7)

Nebraska & Missouri (Week 7)

This was an eventful weekend. I figured a way to see a game on Thursday night in Norfolk, Nebraska, and then saw two games in Missouri on Friday and Saturday.

Norfolk (NE) vs. Fremont (NE)

The weekend opener was in the small Midwestern city of Norfolk. The town’s name is actually misspelled. The town is pronounced “Nor-Fork” as it’s named after the river, “The North Fork”. When applying for a post office to be based in the town, the post office either misread or simply typoed the request and gave the town a post office spelled, “Norfolk” like the town in Virginia. Despite the misspelling, the townsfolk kept pronouncing it as “Norfork”.

Now, this tow is interesting. I purchased the daily paper to find not one bit of info about the town’s only public school playing their homecoming game that night. Instead, the sports section was headed by a huge article detailing Norfolk Catholic’s matchup on Friday with their rival, Pierce. The only key fact the game was being played was in the lineup section was “Fremont at NHS”.

So, it was this that I ventured to Norfolk Memorial Field for the game. Again, without easy access to a car, I had the option of a cab or walk the 2.5 miles to the stadium. I chose to walk. It’s good exercise, and you get to see the town a bit on the way over.

Norfolk Memorial Field is city-owned, rather than owned by the school. Therefore, the city runs it as the home field of all three local schools: Norfolk High School, Norfolk Catholic, and Lutheran Northeast. Lutheran Northeast gets the stadium in Friday for their home game. So, the public school’s homecoming game is instead being played on a Thursday.

The stadium is under ongoing renovations. Only two small walkways from the parking lots access the stadium. There are no permanent bathrooms, locker rooms, nor concession stands as of yet. The stadium is simply a metal riser on the home and away side seating about 6,000 at most. The announced attendance (a first for games this year) was 1,975. A decent crowd as Fremont (75 miles away) brought roughly 100 people.

The stadium has new field turf with blank endzones and a large N at midfield in the black soccer circle. Norfolk around the top and Memorial Field around the bottom inside the black circle.

A simple primitive electric scoreboard sits to the southeast corner. Which makes it a difficult angle for home fans. The field is aligned north to south with the home fans on the western, sun-free side. Tickets to the game were $4 and a limited program was only 50-cents. A display selling jackets, jerseys, shirts, hats, and chair backs was behind the only other permanent structure, the ticket booth on the south side.

The Norfolk Panthers wore all maroon uniforms with white numbers. The Fremont Tigers wore black helmets and pants with white jersey. Black numbers outlined in gold with a gold F on the helmet.

Norfolk came into the game at 2-4 while Fremont came in at 1-5. Despite the poor showings, Norfolk easily dominated this game. After a quirk field goal, Norfolk ran off four straight touchdowns to make it 31-0 at the half. Late in the third with backups in, the Panthers scored again to make it 37-0 with a missed kick. Finally, in the fourth Fremont scored a 54-yard touchdown on a wide open pass when the receiver simply beat the defender down the sideline. Norfolk’s backup countered with a 71-yard touchdown run to go back up 43-7 (maxpreps’ score isn’t right). With the mercy rule eating the clock, the game ended shortly thereafter.

Now, for the atmosphere. The home fans were very supportive of their team. And for concessions, Nebraskans know how to grill. On the menu were $2.50 hamburgers (restaurant quality), $2 brats (a little dry), $2 hot dogs (didn’t have any), and $1.50 chicken on a stick (unbelievable flavor, definitely something I wish Ohio schools would do). They did have a tent set up in the southeast endzone to sit and watch the game while you ate. Gave a nice field level view of one of the Norfolk touchdowns.

After that, it was another 2.5 mile walk and by the next night be in Boonville, Missouri for a game.

Boonville (MO) vs. Moberly (MO)

I didn’t have to walk for this game, but it was sized up to be a pretty good larger school game in north central Missouri between the Boonville Pirates and the Moberly Spartans.

What’s funny is that I’ve been to Gene Reagan Field before earlier this year and walked the track and took some photos. One of the key reasons I wanted to actually see a game here. The stadium is a beautiful update to an old stadium located behind the high school down in a depressed bowl that is used to efficiency for the stands.

The stadium is aligned east to west with the home fans on the south against the high school. The top of the hill behind the stands and before the school serves as a large paved concourse. The concessions are located in an outcropping of the school, as are the bathrooms. Another few tables were set up selling hamburgers, chips, and a drink for $5. There was one stand selling shirts and hats along the ridge around the stadium.

Handicapped seating is limited to sitting in your car around the hillside looking down at the field below. Much akin to Conotton Valley’s use of car parking for handicapped, Steubenville’s perch above the field, or Kaycee (WY)’s hillside general use to see the game.

Around the ridge by the pavement, fans set up lawn chairs to watch the game from high up. This actually led to their being a lot of seating in the bleacher’s themselves. otherwise, the stands would be packed. The field is also field turf with a dark brown track ringing the field. The field has blue endzones with Boonville to the west and Pirates to the east. A large, blue B sits at the 50. The visitors’ side is accessed by the long wheelchair pathway or to cut across the west side of the track to the steps leading all the way up to the concourse.

Again, the tickets were $4 and included a free roster sheet. There were no programs or other simple souvenirs to purchase for the game. So, the roster sheet is it. For the second straight day, there was also no ticket stub, either.

The Boonville Pirates were wearing blue helmets and jerseys with white numbers and pants. The players were wearing pink socks (as did Norfolk). The Moberly Spartans were wearing white helmets and jerseys with blue pants. Blue numbers with red helmet and shoulder accent stripes.

Boonville entered the game at 5-1, Moberly at 3-4. This was a strange game. 10 minutes in and there was six possessions, and one first down and no turnovers between them. Entering the second quarter on the eight possession, Boonville began moving the ball, but were forced to punt. With 8:38 left in the half, Moberly finally secured a first down. They turned that into a long drive that culminated in a 37-yard field goal attempt that was wide left with 3:23 left. In all, there were 10 posessions, no points, no turnovers, and only a handful of first downs.

Midway through the third quarter, the first mistake was made. Moberly received a punt deep in their territory and threw an interception on 3rd-and-13 that was returned about 30 yards to the one. Boonville broke open the scoring with a run to the right side. The PAT made it 7-0. In the fourth quarter, Moberly was driving again and were stuck at 4th-and-3 at the 13 with under five minutes to go. The QB scrambled to the right and could’ve run for the first, but instead lobbed it to the endzone that was off the receiver’s hands and into the air where it was caught by a Boonville defender for the touchback.

Boonville was forced to punt and Moberly drove the field again. With under a minute, Moberly’s QB threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted and returned to the Boonville 23 with :42 left. With a very lenient referee who waited until there was 24 seconds on the clock to signal the start of the play, the game was over with only one kneel down. 7-0. A boring, yet exciting game. Definitely one I’ll remember for how one mistake broke the tie. Moberly easily moved the ball in the second half, but just couldn’t move it when it counted.

Crystal City (MO) v. Hillsboro Grandview (MO)

The next day, it was on to Crystal City just south of St. Louis. The only games to see were in the Kansas City or St. Louis metro areas except for this little town along the Mississippi River. To see a game here meant a three mile walk to and from the stadium, or a cab ride. Again, I opted for the walk.

The homecoming game was set to kickoff at 1pm and appeared to me that Crystal City was the only school that openly played the non-Friday games at home when every non-metro team played Fridays.

It turns out, a scheduling fluke caused this to happen. Just as Cochranton (PA) played on a Thursday last year, this game wasn’t by choice. Crystal City and Hillsboro Grandview scheduled a game for 10/7 (Friday). It wasn’t until just before the season that Grandview realized they had schedule games against St. Vincent and Crystal City for the same day. Crystal City, meanwhile, were to host St. Vincent on 9/30 (Friday). Because none of these games could be cancelled, a bit of scheduling craziness took place.

Crystal City moved their game against St. Vincent to 9/29 (Thursday), and their game against Grandview to 10/8 (Saturday). Meanwhile, the double-booked Grandview-St. Vincent game was moved to 10/4 (Tuesday) to allow there to be five days between games for all involved.

With that, Crystal City was hosting Grandview on a Saturday afternoon. Dr. J.J. Commerford Stadium is a beautiful hidden jewel of a stadium in Missouri. Situated just west of the Mississippi River on the flood plain (it actually sits east of the primary flood protection), it is a concrete behemoth that’s withstood the test of time and, apparently, numerous floods.

An elevated walkway leads you from the street to the northwest upper corner of the massive concrete stadium. Going north to south, it sits outward from the hillside. Trees with undergrowth sit behind and to the south of the stadium, towering over the seats and providing shade on the southern side.

The concession stand is located at ground level by the fence to the north. There is nothing across the field, other than a solitary railroad track running behind some trees. The scoreboard is far to the south well beyond the edge of the reddish colored five lane track that rings the field.

The pressbox sits perched atop the steep seating area with a merchandise counter that doubles as a beverage outpost for those not wanting to walk all the way down. This stadium appears that it once had bleachers mounted above the concrete. Today, you simply sit on the weathered concrete. With the gargantuan stadium for a smaller schools, it’s more than adequate for any crowd.

It was only $3 for a ticket (cheapest yet this year) and the little program was free. I bought a nice logoed seat cushion for $5 and a lanyard for 50-cents. Greatly underpriced, I think. But, I have two nice souvenirs.

The stadium recently replaced the natural grass with field turf. The endzones are red with Crystal City to the north and Hornets to the south. A large interlocking CC logo sits at midfield akin to the 49ers oval logo (just replace the SF with CC).

The Crystal City Hornets entered the game at 3-3 while the Grandview Eagles were 1-5. The Hornets wore all red with white trim and numbers outlined in black. An interlocking CC logo was on the helmet. The Eagles were black and yellow, similar to the Missouri Tigers (which a lot of their fans wore in lieu of team merchandise). The Eagles wore black helmets and pants with black-numbered white jerseys.

Calpreps predicted an easy win for Crystal City, and it was about as easy as it could get. A perfect game for homecoming. The Hornets opened with a 38-yard quarterback keeper (7-0), a one yard run (14-0), another T0-D (21-0), an 85-yard QB run all over the field (28-0), a fumble return for touchdown on a sack (35-0), and a 7-yard run to make it 42-0 at the half.

Missouri has a mercy rule, but it didn’t appear to run the clock when the half started. However, I did see it running after their touchdown on their first possession, 49-0. I assume they have a 45-point mercy rule or the clock operators failed to keep the clock running. It was with the cycling of backups that Grandview got on the board with a nice long sustained drive capped off with a good pass play to make it 49-6 after three. A nine-yard run up the middle made it 56-6 with 5:25 left. With the game no longer in doubt, Grandview tacked on a 68-yard TD pass on a broken play where the receiver was left uncovered down the sideline for the touchdown. The PAT capped the scoring, 56-13.

This was a really fun environment. I would love to see a game here under the lights. I doubt I’d walk that, but I could always call a cab. It is a beautiful old stadium that brings back memories of the Memphis (TX) Cyclones’s Cyclone Stadium. Just an old, quirky, eccentric stadium that has this sense of identity that these modern all-metal riser stadiums just can’t match.

This stadium falls under the concept of finding whatever open land in town there is to place a stadium. But, it’s perfect. If you’re ever in eastern Missouri and want to see a small school game in an beautiful old stadium, Crystal City would be a great choice.

Elsewhere around the country a recap of teams I’ve seen in non-Ohio or non-Event games (i.e., Crosstown Showdown, Herbie, etc).

In Colorado, Platte Valley beat Estes Park, 53-8 to go up to 3-3 on the year. Wiggins, their opponent are up to 5-1 after beating Yuma, 26-7. The Lamar Savages are sitting at 5-2 after whipping Colorado Springs Christian, 34-3. Kent Denver shutout Denver Manual, 56-0 to go up to 5-1.

In Kentucky, Boone County beat Kenton out of Independence, 24-6 to go up to 5-3 on the year. Their opponent, Louisville Male are now 2-4 after losing badly to Louisville St. Xavier, 57-7.

In Indiana, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger lost to Fort Wayne Snider, 42-41 to fall to 5-3. Indianapolis Cathedral destroyed Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, 47-7.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque Foothill beat Animas, 25-6 for their second victory and now sit at 2-4. Floyd lost to Logan, 58-8 and sit at 1-5. In 11-man football, Albuquerque Valley lost badly to Rio Rancho Cleveland, 42-0 to fall to 1-4. Albuquerque Manzano (5-1) were idle this week.

And lastly, games from last week in Wyoming. In Six-man, Kaycee got thumped, 66-6 to Little Snake River out of Baggs, WY to fall to 4-2. Their opponent, Meeteetse stayed winless (0-6), getting shut out by Ten Sleep, 46-0. In Eleven-Man, Buffalo lost to Lander Valley, 14-7 to fall back to .500, at 3-3. Riverton crunched Torrington, 30-3, to go up to 4-3 on the season.

These were the 29th, 30th, and 31st games I’ve seen on the year. In two weeks, I’ll be in Ohio for the Steubenville-Massillon game at Harding Stadium. As for next week. I’m just as clueless where I might be watching a game. But, wherever it may be, it should be fun under the Friday night lights.

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