High school football undoubtedly reigns as king of sports in the fall for St. Joseph with all the tickets sold, concession food bought and bringing people in the community together.
Last Friday night was a huge night for two schools in the area: St. Joseph Christian and Northland Christian high schools.
“It is a historic night for all of our kids,” St. Joseph Christian head coach Tony Schenk said.
The reason for that historic night? It was the first time ever that both schools suited up as one team to play 11-man football. St. Joseph Christian has only played 8-man football before, and Northland Christian has never had a team.
Combining both programs has an impact on the number of fans who are brought out to games, which will inevitably lead to growth for both schools.
“I think all you have to do is see the fans in the stands. Not that it was just a historic night. But we had everyone here,” Schenk said. “Both schools were together and unified under one banner.”
St. Joseph Christian has a 32-year school history. Eight-man football has been around since the early 2000s for the Lions. That brought much needed change to the school. One senior remembers that night and the implications of what last Friday means to the community.
“Our first 8-man game in 2000 we played at Stewartsville. We were down like 80-0,” St. Joseph Christian senior John Gregory said. “We scored our first touchdown and both crowds celebrated and it was like something that happened here tonight.”
Gregory also knows that this first game was a step in the right direction for both schools.
“This moment is really like a moment of history in our school. It signifies growth in a way. So this game is really historic for me and my family and everything I stand for,” Gregory said.
The Lions would go on to lose to the Putnam County Midgets 21-0 last Friday night as they adapt to a bigger field, more players and brighter lights. Entering their second game this Friday against East Buchanan, the only way to go is up.
“Both schools are so excited to start this process and this season together. It is fantastic,” said Schenk.