Amy Williams remembers the stamps painted on the roads from Astronaut and Titusville high schools to Draa Field.
Eagle talons were painted from War Eagle Boulevard to the stadium. Dog paws were painted along U.S. 1 to the same place.
Draa Field is no more. The football rivalry between Astronaut and Titusville high schools will visit the Terriers’ Al Werneke Field at 7 p.m. Friday. Both teams enter the game with 1-3 records, and that will have no impact on the intensity, which has grown since the first meeting in 1972, which the Terriers won, 9-0.
It was almost always the last game of the season. Actually it was more than a game; it was an event.
RoseMarie Mihal, now with the Titusville English department, recalled the final game at Draa. It was 2006, and the War Eagles had won the previous 14 games. The stands were packed with spectators, “crammed shoulder to shoulder, stomping on the bleachers, standing on the seats, screaming as loud as we could until that last minute” in a 13-9 Terriers win.
“We flew off the bleachers and ran onto the field to congratulate our team,” she said. “As a teacher at THS, I had many of the players in my English class, and I clearly remember Bobby DuBois literally picking me up and twirling me around in all of the excitement on the field.”
Tom Bundy, now an Astronaut coach, remembered the finish from his senior season, 1992. The Terriers had won the last four years.
“We were heavy underdogs,” Bundy said. “Fourth quarter. They’re up by seven. They have possession of the ball and they fail to run the remaining 1:30 or so off the clock. Most of the AHS fans are walking to their cars already.”
Titusville punted from the 30, and Donnie Hill, also a senior, ran it back for a touchdown. That tied the game and sent it into overtime. Astronaut blocked a Terriers extra point attempt for a 14-13 win.
It was the start of the 14-game War Eagles streak that ended in 2006.
Juli Sharp, who was a Titusville cheerleader in her own school days, now teaches at Astronaut. Her top memory reveals one aspect of the rivalry that likely had a role leading to its intensity: the teams’ sharing of Draa. Sharp still remembers the packed stands when the two met on what was the home field for both.
“The gate was locked between the two sides, and no one was allowed to cross over,” she recalled. “Since we shared Draa Field, it was not like we were on each other’s territory. We had our own home side. It was always the last game of the season, and it was a huge event.”
The disappearance of Draa Field, by the way, did not end the rivalry, and it likely won’t end soon, as the game’s past reaches forward to influence the 2016 version and beyond.
Kevin Browne shared the memory of his first year teaching at Astronaut, 1987. Titusville took a 17-0 lead to the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but it was Brett Gadapee playing quarterback,” he said. “Astronaut started throwing the ball and scoring touchdowns every time they got possession of the ball.”
The War Eagles came back to win, 20-17. Three decades later, another Gadapee plays quarterback for Astronaut, Brett’s son, Chase.
He, his teammates and the Terriers will meet again Friday, the 45th game in the series, more memories yet to be made.
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698
Astronaut at Titusville, 7 p.m.
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