After a three-year process, football was welcomed in Russellville with a roaring home game Monday night. Parents, students, staff and community members filled the stands in support of the players in their first game.
“I’m excited, these kids have been working hard and they’re ready to play this game,” David Stuckey said. “(Russellville’s) already got a great sense of community pride here, that’s one thing we didn’t have to build.”
Stuckey is the head coach for the Russellville Indians seventh- through eighth-grade team.
After interest for a football team was brought to Superintendent Perry Gorrell, $30,000 was the amount of funds needed to offset district cost. The school decided to use the field inside its track for home games, which cut a big expense. Collin Steenbergen was part of the parent organization fighting for the program, and he celebrated Russellville’s first football game in history with a tailgate. His son, Noah is on the team.
“One of our main arguments for wanting to do (this) was it gave kids the opportunity to do something, not just the really, really athletic kids,” Steenbergen said. “There’s a spot on a football team for a big kid, there’s a spot on a football team for a little-fast kid, it takes all kinds to put a team together, and it opens a lot of doors and opportunities for kids.”
Despite some resistance to change, the program survived and brought large numbers last night. Student organizations like art club, choir, band and cheer team gathered to provide school spirit.
“It’s a bold move for the community, for the school, for the participants that have supported it so diligently,” alumna Linda Gordon said. “I’m excited for the school and the community and the students. I think it’s a good thing.”
Down in the first quarter, the team struggled to score. That changed late in the second quarter when Arjay Wilson scored the first touchdown in Russellville history, which was a proud moment for Wilson’s family cheering in the stands.
Although some players have never played a sport, supporters are hopeful the activity will help grow the school revenue and breathe new life into the community.
The Indians were defeated by Lincoln junior high Cardinals 50-22. The crowd stood and cheered as the clock ticked down to the last second.
Published in News Tribune September 11, 2018