West Acres Baptist Church buzzed Friday with conversation about another generation.
Evans High School welcomed its first football team to its final game of the regular season, inviting the former players to a pregame meal at the church and introducing them as co-captains before the Knights' game against Richmond Academy.
The former players, who first took the field in 1958, talked wistfully about the Evans Knights then. Most of the memories included anecdotes about the poor condition of the first field, which was built where Evans High School had burned in 1956 and where Cracker Barrel and the Home Depot now stand .
"You'd get hurt if you got tackled because it had gravel and rocks and glass sticking up in it," said Superior Court Judge Jim Blanchard, who played fullback and end. "You just prayed that you didn't land on any of that. You'd have more cuts on that than if you got hit."
The Knights played their first game against Langford Junior High and later were invited to play in the Shrine Bowl, where they played Aquinas at Richmond Academy and narrowly lost.
Football began at the school as spring practice in 1957.
The Knights had less than a handful of players with game experience. And they didn't have the benefit of learning from what they saw on television.
"The only television I saw was at your house," former player Jimmie Kirkland told Blanchard on Friday. "And it wouldn't come on until after 6 o'clock."
The former Knights were introduced and applauded at the church before the meal was served. Evans was also honored its 23 seniors before their final home game.
Evans senior Reuben Faloughi thanked the guests for what they started.
At the game, the contingent walked halfway onto the field during the coin toss and acknowledged the crowd. They were joined by Evans' class of 1998, which celebrated its 10-year reunion.
Members of the 1958 homecoming court and some cheerleaders were also in attendance Friday. Janet Milford, who was named homecoming queen that year, did not accept the crown in a sparkling evening gown.
"My sweater got eaten up by moths or I'd be wearing it tonight," Milford said.
Patricia Slagle, whose father served as president of the Evans Touchdown Club, was on the homecoming court that night and was later voted Miss Evans High School.
"We stood there and watched them put all the lights on the field," Slagle said. "It was a huge thing. Everybody looked forward to football coming."
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