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Dion Clisso/PrepsKC

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 27, 2015 - 2:45 PM



As Kansas City grew into the suburbs after World War II, school districts like Shawnee Mission on the Kansas side and Raytown on the Missouri side began to see a large amount of growth.

Those districts would need to open new high schools and go from a single high school district to a multiple high school district. Multiple high schools were common for the Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas districts, but for the suburban schools it was a new thing.

Shawnee Mission opened Shawnee Mission East in 1958 and Raytown opened Raytown South in 1961. At the time, the idea was for schools to share football facilities. East would play at what became Shawnee Mission North and Raytown South would play at Raytown.

That continued in those districts and others as growth saw districts like Olathe and Blue Valley explode on the Kansas side and Blue Springs and North Kansas City on the Missouri side. Shawnee Mission would eventually have five high schools playing football at two facilities while Raytown is still at the one school.

Some of the multiple high school districts have gone to home stadiums for its football programs. Blue Springs South got its own field in 2005 and Lee’s Summit built stadiums at each of its new schools: Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West when they opened.

It seemed Raytown South would be destined to share a facility forever because if it hadn’t changed in almost 50 years, why would it change now.

A few years ago the thinking began to change. Current Raytown South head coach Nick Adkins was an assistant under David Allie when Allie told him there was a movement for a home stadium at Raytown South.

“About two years ago this week Dave walked in and said they are going to put a stadium on the bond and we all kind of laughed,” Adkins said. “He said no; I think they are really going to put it on there and we kind of laughed again. All of a sudden it was six months later; it was on the bond and we were trying to help get it passed. It’s been a pretty big transition since then.

“I don’t know if it has set in for anybody yet. Obviously we see the construction and we’ve had to deal with some of the construction pains and the growing pains this summer. Once you start seeing the pieces being put together, it starts to feel a little bit more real. I don’t think until Friday night and it’s four o’clock and we aren’t getting on a bus, I think that will be the first time it will really start to sink in for the players and the coaches who have been here that long.”

That talk turned into action and the issue was placed for a bond election in April of 2014. The Bond passed and Raytown South would get its own football stadium for this fall’s games. Now the waiting is over and the state of the art facility opens for the Cardinals first true home game in 54 years Friday when South hosts Truman.

Even though playing at Raytown is all the current players have ever known, it is still a big honor to open the stadium.

“It’s an honor to be able to play in the stadium,” South senior quarterback Jabril Cox said. “I think anybody would give anything to play one game in the stadium and we get to play a whole season in it.”

Cox said the stadium means a lot for the current fans.

“It’s a relief because we know all the fans we know don’t have to travel all the way over to Raytown,” Cox said. “We have a real home; a place to call home.”

The results of a home stadium can be tangible. Blue Springs South won its first state title just one year after its home field opened, and the Jaguars played for another in 2008 and won their second crown in 2011.

While titles are nice, just the pride factor of playing at the school is something that resonates with players and community members. Adkins’ father played for Raytown South and the coach said this will be a big moment for both of them.

“The person who is most excited about this is my dad,” Adkins said. “He played here in 1970 and graduated from here and was a part of those teams. When I got hired here in 2006 he started talking to me about it saying, don’t you just hate going over there.

“When everything started happening, he got pumped for it. He had his class reunion a couple of weeks ago and they were all talking about it. It will be a great opportunity for the community as a whole, for not only Raytown South, but for Raytown to have their own stadium as well. We are real appreciative of the community for recognizing that.”

The importance of the game can be felt by the current players. The Cardinal logo was installed on the field over this past weekend. At Tuesday’s practice the players were excited to be able to practice on the logo for the first time.

 

These players are excited but Cox knows that for the former players and people who follow Raytown South, this is a special day.

“Everybody is excited,” Cox said. “I think a lot of people are even more excited than the players.”

Cox only had to wait 18 years, but he said he thinks how those who waited decades will feel at the first game.

“I think the way they will react is like the first day of Christmas,” Cox said. 

The field has all new concessions and restrooms