On Sept. 19, 1958, at least 1,600 Columbia County residents gathered to dedicate a new football field at what was then Evans High School.
Evans Middle School football players practice on the field after school. The team will play its last game at its home stadium on Oct. 11 against Greenbrier Middle. Next year, Evans Middle School will relocate to its new campus on Hereford Farm Road.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The football stadium, at the corner of Washington Road and Belair Road, was baptized that night with a 13-12 Evans victory over Tubman Junior High School. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Evans halfback Melvin Grey ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
The night was a dream brought to reality for head coach Red Bullock, the Evans Touchdown Club and Columbia County Schools Superintendent John Pierce Blanchard, in addition to countless other Columbia County residents.
Now, 47 years later, that same football field will see its rich tradition come to an end.
The final home football game on the Evans Middle School campus will take place Tuesday in the Knights' homecoming game against Greenbrier Middle.
"This has always been a field that has carried a lot of legacy and a lot of history," Evans Middle School Principal Michael Johnson said. "This field produced a lot of great athletes in this area."
The field and middle school campus were sold in May of 2004 to a group of developers.
A new campus is under construction on Hereford Farm Road and is scheduled to be ready for use before the 2006-07 school year.
Evans Middle School Guidance Secretary Peggy Stewart was a pupil at the school when the stadium was built.
"I can remember when they were making the field," Stewart said. "It was a community thing. When they had the football games, everybody went."
Bill Bailey was a member of that first Evans football team. He said he'll never forget that opening night on the football field.
"I remember that was the first football game I had ever seen in person, and I played in it," Bailey said. "It was quite an experience."
Almost 50 years later, the football stadium in the middle of Evans will provide that experience one last time. The Knights are 4-1 on the season and a win over Greenbrier Middle on Tuesday would give them a second-place finish in the county.
Wes Ivie is an eighth-grader at Evans Middle and plays tight end and defensive end on the team.
"We have seven more days on this field," Ivie said at Tuesday's football practice. "It's our time to shine."
Plans are in the making for a homecoming parade and pep rally to accompany the school's final home game.
The parade will start at 1 p.m. and will travel through the Evans Middle campus, ending at the football field for the pep rally, which will feature members of the 1959 Evans football team.
The festivities are intended not only to celebrate the school's rich tradition but to raise money.
"I was flabbergasted when I found out that the money for the new school goes to the classrooms only," said Nan Waters Sherrill, an Evans alumnus and member of the Evans Booster Club, "but this is the way it's always been done. Everything else is supposed to be done by the booster club and donations."
Tim Beatty, the executive director of facilities, maintenance, and operations for the Columbia County Board of Education, said construction of the school does include a football stadium with bleachers and goalposts, and a baseball field with dugouts.
The additional features that Evans Middle now enjoys, such as a field house and lights, are not included.
Sherrill said the Evans Middle School Booster Club intends to bring those extras to the new campus.
"We have the architectural plans," Sherrill said. "It's not that big of an undertaking construction-wise, we just need the money to hit the ground running when we can begin construction."
Sherrill and the rest of the Evans Middle Booster Club hope fundraisers from the parade, concession sales, commemorative program sales and donations at the game will offset the cost of the athletic facility.
"It's all a very sentimental thing," Sherrill said. "We would love for all the alumni, the people in the bands and former players to please come to the game."
The parade will begin Tuesday at 1 p.m., followed by a homecoming pep rally on the football field. The football game will begin at 5 p.m.
For tickets to the game or more information on donations or participating in the parade, call Peggy Stewart at 863-2275.
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