View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 6/25

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: June 25, 2010 - 5:18 PM

At the college and professional level of football, the facilities provided by the schools or teams seem to have as much influence on winning as coaching and players.

It’s not hard to see why the University of Texas continues to dominate the Big XII or X or whatever they are going to call it. On the pro level, teams like the Cowboys and Patriots have been consistent winners with some of the best stadiums and practice facilities in all of football.

Sometimes I wonder if that trend is finding its way into high school football. I was at Staley High School earlier in the week and that just might be the case. The athletic facilities at the newest school in the North Kansas City School District look on first glance to be second to none.

As I drove up to the football stadium I felt like I was pulling up to a small college. Heck, even some small colleges don’t have facilities like the Falcons and the other North Kansas City Schools who use the stadium.  My nephew plays at Avila University and the Eagles practice on a grass field that is sometimes more mud than grass. They then get in busses and play their home games at Rockhurst High School.

Rockhurst’s stadium is really where all of these new stadiums and facilities began. Back in 2002 the Hawklets built a new home grandstand and put in field turf. The school was the first in the Kansas City area to have one of the new turf fields and it has only spread from there. Now even smaller schools have turf and impressive stadiums to call home.

It is truly becoming an arms race in high school football. Now schools and districts are proud to show off the newest field, press box or even the locker rooms to fans and rivals. While high schools don’t recruit like college, these new facilities would to me help bring players from within a school to a program.

What high school student wouldn’t want to spend their Friday nights in front of thousands of fans in a brightly lit stadium cheering the home team. I can remember last year as I stood on the sidelines of the Blue Springs-Blue Springs South game with my nephew. The Wildcats were at home and had just scored to go up 21-0 in the first quarter and the home fans were going crazy. My nephew, a former Wildcat himself, looked around and said “I kind of miss this.”

While he is thrilled to be playing college football at Avila, the dedicated fans at a small college is not the same atmosphere as a rabid passionate big-time high school game on a Friday night. As the game continues to grow, the easiest way to see that growth is in the size of the stadiums our local high schools call home each Friday night.

If your school hasn’t redone their stadium in the last five years, it is probably coming. If your school has, guess what, more changes are probably on the way because some school somewhere is building the next great stadium and everyone will have to keep up.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to