City prepares for Friday night football

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

Last Thursday was yet another hot and muggy day in Greenville. Sweat streamed down the faces of anyone spending more than a moment or two outdoors.

It certainly wasn't classic "football weather," but the game was definitely on the minds of plenty of Greenvillians as the city prepared to kick off another high school football season.

Getting that Eagle spirit

At Fort Dale Academy, throngs of supporters poured onto the football field late Thursday afternoon as upbeat music rang through the loudspeakers. Plenty of red, white and blue was sighted as uniformed cheerleaders from peewee to varsity roamed the grounds.

Dance team members practiced their moves and twirlers - their sequined costumes sparkling in the sun - fingered their batons. The FDA Eagle himself put in an appearance, stopping to chat with young fans.

Hungry spectators checked out the burger baskets on sale at the concession stand, while others crowded around a booth selling all things FDA to fans.

"We have a little of everything - shirts, leis, hats, beads, footballs, cushions, shakers - you name it. We want to help everybody get in the spirit," volunteer Jill Stallworth said.

Alex Bloodworth tried out one of the "fan hands" while Madison Gibson modeled a fuzzy blue hat and red lei.

Young volunteer Hannah Johnson assisted youngsters like Kayla Smith and Gibson as they browsed among the Eagle goodies. JV cheerleader Elizabeth Anne Nordgren painted "FDA" on the face of six-year-old Warren Matthews while his mom, Elizabeth, checked out the spirit items.

The event was designed to welcome newcomers to the school, welcome back familiar faces and show off the skills of those who will cheer on and entertain the FDA fans this season.

"We want to especially welcome all our new families to our FDA extended family…this is just the first of many fun activities we have planned for the year," FDA Headmaster David Brantley told the crowd.

PTA President Donna Marie Crocker also encouraged fans to support their school and their PTA throughout the year.

Head coach "Speedy" Sampley thanked everyone for coming out in the hot weather and encouraged fans to follow the team to Evergreen for their first game against Sparta

Academy.

The JV and varsity cheerleaders took to the field together to "strut their stuff' in energetic performances, as did the FDA Dance Team and the Varsity Twirlers.

As the event drew to a close, fans again flocked to the spirit booth to get their gear for another year of FDA Eagle football.

Showing that Tiger pride

Getting ready for game day requires more than getting the gear and going through plenty of grueling practices.

Coach Mike Williams of Greenville

High School and his coaching staff were on the field of Tiger Stadium Thursday night until well after dark, but they weren't joined by players being put through their drills.

Their mission? Get Tiger Field numbered, lined and ready for the Tigers and their Friday night opponents from Daleville.

Williams and Ward Thigpen were putting the finishing touches on the giant "G" midfield shortly before 7 p.m.

The scent of paint and the sight of many empty cans of field spray paint were a testament to the efforts of the staff.

Williams hustled into the stands to get a fan's-eye look at the logo.

"It looks great from up there - maybe just a little more work on the inside of the 'G' on the left side," he advised Thigpen.

David Hartman manned the sprayer to fill in the numbered stencils on the yard lines while Matt Coghlin, Bryan Dunn and Bobby Hughes also threw their backs into the process.

The GHS staff concentrated on getting the numbers, hash marks and coaches' boxes in place as they awaited city crew members to help finish the job by painting lines on the field.

"This is a big job. There will be another four or five guys from the city coming to join us for another three hours or so tonight, and we'll be working full speed ahead," Williams said.

He credited the city with getting the field in "great shape."

"The City of Greenville has been cutting it, fertilizing it and taking good care of it," Williams said as he took a break from spraying in the giant "G."

Satisfying a fan's appetite

Of course, food and football also go hand in hand. For local fans who want to enjoy a sandwich and good company after home games, Just Julie's Coffee Caf\u00E9 is offering "Fifth Quarter" on Friday nights during football season.

"We wanted to offer a place where the kids and their families could come after games and enjoy a meal or a treat," owner Julie Autrey said.

Instead of their normal Friday night fine dining, the restaurant is offering their popular grilled sandwiches, along with gourmet burgers, pizzas and wings to the post-game crowd from 9 p.m. to midnight.

"We'll be doing this each Friday night when there is a home game for Greenville High and/or Fort Dale. It's something our customers have expressed interest in and we hope to get a good response," Autrey said.

Custom milkshakes and Just Julie's signature frozen and hot beverages will also be available. The business also offers tailgate packages for local and college games.

"Football season is such a fun time in a small town, and we hope to make that even more so in Greenville. Good luck to all our area teams," Autrey said.