Central football team plays first game at new stadium

Sunday, September 4, 2011
Members of The Jungle prepare for the team to take the field during Cape Central's first game in their new stadium against Festus on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. Central won 21-20. (Kristin Eberts)

A roar never before heard on the campus of Cape Girardeau Central High School filled the air of Tiger Stadium on Friday night as thousands of fans welcomed players on to the field their first-ever true home game.

"We are so lucky and glad to have this," said the tiger mascot, who would only identify himself as "C.R."

"It's just amazing," he said, as he took a break from running through the bleacher aisles.

At the end of the first quarter, athletic director Lance Tollison said around 4,000 people were in attendance. The stadium can hold around 5,000. The home side was full.

Principal Mike Cowan said the turnout was beyond what the school had anticipated.

"I'm amazed by the number of alumni who have come out for this. This is the first time I have ever seen so many. The theme of this night should be 'come home to Central,'" he said.

Jan Allen, a special-education teacher at the high school, was selling tiger tails made by her students, and sold out quickly. "There's just amazing spirit out here tonight," she said.

The Tigers have never played on their own field, although the school has had a football team for 100 years. The new stadium is part of the $40 million bond issue passed by voters in 2010.

Jen Redinger's son Brennan, a freshman, was in the north section of the bleachers with hundreds of other student fans as part of The Jungle. As she watched the second quarter from near the end zone, she said she liked the new stadium, but there was more to the night to the players than just the facility.

Fans fill the stands during Cape Central's first game in their new stadium against Festus on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. Central won 21-20. (Kristin Eberts)

"It's a big deal for them," she said. "Before when they were at Houck, it wasn't their turf. Now they really have a home."

Logan Wright, an eighth-grader from the junior high, just wanted to be in the high school jungle.

"It's better up there," he said.

At halftime, the Tigers were down to Festus 14-7.

"The score could be better, but it's not over yet," said superintendent Dr. Jim Welker, watching from the sidelines.

He said the crowd and the night had been great so far, and that he was glad to see many former players had returned to be recognized during halftime ceremonies.

"Other than the heat, I don't see how it could be better," he said. "I'm really proud of all the kids out here and the players. There is a lot of pride and excitement here tonight."

Welker said he was appreciative of the voters passing the bond issue and all the people in and out of the district who worked to plan and build the stadium.

"It's because of them that all this has been able to become a reality," he said.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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