100 Years of Football: What happened to Saturday games?

Local Sports

 

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) Friday nights in the fall are synonymous for high school football. But for decades in Evansville, the Saturday night lights shined bright.  Prior to the construction of Romain Stadium and Bundrant Stadium, there were only three football stadiums available in Evansville.  Central Stadium, Enlow Field and the Reitz Bowl were the only available fields in the early days of high school football. Mater Dei and Reitz shared the Bowl. Memorial, Harrison and Bosse used Enlow Field. And Central and North shared Central stadium. 

Scheduling games for seven teams with just three available fields posed an obvious challenge. 

(Joe Dippel – Former Mater Dei Athletic Director)“You had to get the home and homes right. That was kind of a difficult situation.”

That meant that oftentimes games would be played on both Friday and Saturday in order to accommodate all of the week’s games. 

(Andy Owen – Former Central Head Coach, EVSC Director of Athletics)
“Those Saturday games would have great crowds because people loved high school football, and after your team played on Friday, there was a lot of the community, especially the student body and things like that, that would always go to the Saturday games.”
“I mean the place was completely packed. It was like a college football game on a Saturday afternoon.”

Those Saturday games created great high school atmospheres, but not everyone was a fan.

(Joe Herrmann – Mater Dei Athletic Director)
“It gives every other team in the area a free scout on you. If you’re playing on Friday nights, everybody has their own teams to worry about. But if you’re playing on Saturday, then every team in the area is off, and they can all come watch you play live and get a free scout.”
“There’s a lot of things people had to do on Saturday afternoon and even Saturday night. So it was kind of inconvenient to have it that way.”

But in 2011, the EVSC got a solution with the construction of Romain Stadium and Bundrant Stadium. That gave North and Harrison fields of their own. Evansville now had five fields to split amongst seven schools. And while scheduling conflicts can still sometimes arise, Saturday football has mostly phased out over the last decade.

“It’s really gotten better and improved with time. Of course those two extra football fields have made it really a godsend for everybody.”

The two parochial schools, Memorial and Mater Dei, continue to share their respective stadiums. But the partnership between public and private schools has helped ensure 100 years of high school football memories.

Reporting from Evansville, Blake Sandlin, Eyewitness News. 


(This story was originally published on October 26, 2021)

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