Butler County’s prep football season kicks off later this week, but all the pageantry and excitement involve so much more than the games on the fields, officials said about their plans for this year.
From a local high school’s squad being the first in Ohio to wear commemorative military camouflage game jerseys to new artificial turf fields to new band uniforms and a community-wide celebration of a half-century of schooling, almost every district will be using the games to showcase a new feature or event for the community.
Fairfield will be the first in the state to sport camouflage jerseys at this Friday’s opening night of the season. Instead of the school’s familiar red and white jerseys, the players will be in special commissioned camouflage jerseys from the Ohio Army National Guard.
“We are honored to be the first football team in Ohio to wear these jerseys,” said Aaron Blankenship, Fairfield’s athletic director.
The team will also honor active and retired service men and women and first responders in its first Military and First Responders Appreciation Night.
It’ll be a community-wide celebration at Ross High School’s campus and stadium at its home opening on Sept. 6 as the school district unveils the first artificial turf football field in its history.
Monroe fans will get a double treat of seeing both a new, more colorful, second-generation plastic turf field and new band uniforms for the Marching Hornets.
Edgewood High School’s Cougar squad will be the centerpiece of a massive 50th anniversary celebration of the Butler County district.
“To celebrate this milestone, our district has planned a very special tribute on Friday, at our first home football game of the season,” said Pam Pratt, spokeswoman for Edgewood Schools.
“We have invited our community to come celebrate with us and to ‘pack the stadium’ for this event. And we are encouraging all our students, parents, staff, as well as our community members to wear gold to the game in honor of our 50th anniversary. Pregame activities include a skydiver along with a tribute to past football players and coaches. Nearly 150 alumni players and coaches are returning to Kumler Field for this event,” said Pratt.
The county’s largest school system – the 16,500-student Lakota Schools – ties many home games at its two high schools into themes and special events.
The football clash between the rival Lakota West and Lakota East, which has drawn some of the largest prep sports crowds in Butler County history, also marks the start of an annual food drive competition between the schools with the eventual winner being needy families in the school system.
Lakota West’s football team will also show off new uniforms, as will the Lakota West Marching Firebirds band.
Lakota West Athletic director Scott Kaufman said “at our first home game on Sept. 6 (against) Centerville where we will have our annual Booster Pig Roast and Future Firebird Night where we recognize our elementary schools.”
Lakota East Athletic Director Richard Bryant said a variety of events, programs and themed nights around football games help connect local schools with the wider community.
“You have to take every opportunity that is presented to share the experiences of our school community with our community at large,” said Bryant. “I could not be more proud of our philanthropic efforts and the achievements of our student athletes. We take tremendous pride in both at Lakota East.”