ELMA — For Elma High football fans, viewing their final game from the Davis Field grandstands was bittersweet in more ways than one.
They will all miss the structure that generations have watched football from for more than six decades, but they’re hoping for a better facility to come, and they would have loved to see the venerable stadium go out with a victory. That was not to be as arch-rival Montesano celebrated its Senior Night at Davis Field with a 42-14 Civil War victory on Friday night.
But for much of the crowd, the night was a farewell to Davis Field, at least when it comes to prep football.
“There’s a lot of memories here — a lot of memories, said Howard King, superintendent of the Elma School District. “It’s nobody’s desire to tear it down, but it’s gone as far as it can go as far as a safe structure.”
Come next school year, the Eagles will follow their on-field rivals and neighbors in the quest for new grandstands, although unlike Montesano, with the sudden loss of the Rottle Field stands following an unexplained fire, Elma had a chance to say goodbye.
About 1,500 students and fans from both schools packed the stands and surrounded the field for the Civil War game Friday night.
Elma High Athletic Director Rick Rakevich noted Friday that a 1950 Elma High yearboook noted the opening of Davis Field and its first game — Montesano at Elma — in 1949. Thus, Friday night’s contest brought the field full circle with the two rivals facing off to end its run. The long-standing grandstands of the Eagles’ football and soccer programs are scheduled to be demolished at the end of the 2013-14 school year.
Sitting in the top row of the grandstands was Jack Prince, the Eagles’ longtime public-address announcer, who’s been calling the Elma games from his lofty perch for more than 50 years.
“Maybe they’ll put an elevator in the new stadium,” quipped Prince, who graduated from EHS in 1957.
Sitting nearby Prince was Stan August, who starred on the Elma teams of the early 1960s. Now living near Puyallup, August made the trek down for a final visit to Davis Field on Friday night.
“This place will always be a part of us,” August said, “a big part. Coming down here brings back a lot of memories.”
Ian Cope, longtime broadcaster of prep football games on KXRO radio, figures he’s called 30 to 40 games from the Davis Field stands and will miss the venue.
“It’s a great place to call a game,” said Cope. “It’s got great sight lines and you’re right in the middle of the crowd. There’s not a bad angle to see the field.
Self-described “No. 1 Eagles fan” Brad Tarman remembers the days the stands weren’t in such bad shape. He’s been a spectator there since 1952, and a player on the field from 1954-‘56. He remembers “a lot of good games and a lot of bad games” seen from his seat at Davis Field.
He said the last game was “kind of sad, but we do need new stands. It served its time.”
Tarman noted the current stands were built by volunteer labor, and worried about funding a new home.
“We’ve never passed a bond to build one before,” he said.
The Daily World contributed to this story.