Just past the entrance to Raytown South’s stadium, the booster club set up a tent selling T-shirts bearing the phrase “This is our house.”
Though not uncommon in high school athletics, that bravado had special meaning for the Cardinals Friday night as they hosted their first true home game in 54 years.
The game ended in a 25-22 loss to Truman, but senior Jabril Cox said that did not tarnish the excitement of finally getting to play in the new stadium.
“I loved it, and the atmosphere was great,” Cox said. “It’s a place that we finally get to call home.”
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Cox made himself comfortable Friday by contributing to all three of the Cardinals’ touchdowns. His first came through the air when he connected with Tyree Sorrells. He added a two-point conversion and then ran in the next two touchdowns for Raytown South.
But his efforts were not enough to offset a Truman offense that became the first to score in the new stadium. After the Patriots recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, Juan Flores ran it in for a touchdown. The Truman defense followed with a safety, and Will Jenkins nailed a field goal for a 12-8 halftime lead.
Truman’s Dean Clemons connected with Phillip Woolsey for a touchdown in the third quarter and then put the game out of reach with a rushing touchdown in the fourth.
The new stadium looked the part, with gleaming metal bleachers, artificial turf and a screen behind the southwest end zone.
The complex also houses a press box, a ticket booth and concession stand with restrooms.
Raytown South will have another shot at its first home victory on Sept. 11, when the Cardinals host Kearney.
On the other sideline, the Patriots had reason to be especially excited about being the first guests at the new stadium — they are preparing for a similar night in a little over a month.
Truman opens its own new facility on Oct. 2 when the Patriots host Marshall in the first home game in the school’s 50-year history. They’ve been playing on William Chrisman’s campus.
Truman’s first phase of renovations will increase bleacher capacity to about 3,500 seats, but athletic director Eric Holm said the school is expecting far more fans to show up for that first game. Phase two will add a press box and more stands; a final phase will renovate the locker rooms.
“We are going to encourage people to bring their own chairs and we will be getting information out about that soon,” Holm said. “It will be like a picnic with a football game.”