HARRISONBURG — The football teams from Fort Defiance and Waynesboro are going “big time” in October.
The Indians and the Little Giants are two of eight teams participating in the inaugural Shenandoah Valley Football Classic, scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15 at James Madison University’s Bridgeforth Stadium. Also participating are Spotswood, Turner Ashby, Broadway, Harrisonburg, East Rockingham and Stonewall Jackson.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Mark Mace, Fort Defiance’s athletic director said of the event, which was announced at a press conference Thursday at the stadium. “It will be great for the kids to get the chance to play on a big stage.”
Four games — one Friday and three on Saturday — are scheduled at the 24,877-seat home of the Dukes, who will be on the road at New Hampshire that weekend. All games are regular-season games that were already on the schedule.
The action kicks off on Friday night with Waynesboro taking on Turner Ashby at 7 p.m. in what will be the Knights’ homecoming game. Saturday at noon, it will be Harrisonburg vs. Broadway, with East Rockingham and Stonewall Jackson following at 3 p.m.
The Indians close out the action at 6 p.m. with their game against Spotswood.
Derek McDaniel, Waynesboro’s AD and head football coach sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance for his players.
“I think [East Rockingham coach Donnie Coleman] said it best at the press conference,” McDaniel said. “He said that only about 5 percent of our players go on to play college football, and this is a chance for the other 95 percent to have that feeling.
“It’s a great way for all of our communities to come together, and the kids are really excited about the game,” McDaniel added.
The idea of playing at Bridgeforth came after the Blazers and T.A. faced off in a rescheduled game last Oct. 5. The torrential downpour throughout that weekend led to the game being played at JMU.
“[Spotswood Athletic Director] Tim Leach brought it up at our spring meeting,” Mace said. “The Valley ADs thought it was a great opportunity and fortunately it all worked out.
The four host teams — Spotswood, Turner Ashby, Stonewall Jackson and Broadway — will split the cost of the rental fee for the use of the stadium. Gate receipts Are expected to be enough to cover that expense, Leach said in a press release.
The ticket price for Friday’s Waynesboro-T.A. game is $7. Fans will be able to watch all three Saturday games for $10. Online ticket sales start Sept. 1. Game-day sales will be cash only.