The turf is down, the scoreboard is up and several hundred tickets already have been sold. For the DeSales High School football program, Game 1 in its first-ever on-campus football stadium finally is here.
The Colts will open Paul B. Cox Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they host Fairdale in the kickoff of the 2016 season.
The $5 million facility for football and baseball seats 2,850, but DeSales athletic director Don Bowers said it can hold up to 4,500 with standing room. Bowers said Thursday afternoon that more than 2,000 tickets had been sold. Tickets are $6 and will be available at the school Friday, starting at 8 a.m.
A pregame dedication ceremony is set to start at 7:10 p.m.
“We’re hoping we reach 4,500, but we’re also hoping we don’t have to turn a lot of people away,” Bowers said.
MORE COVERAGE | New stadium a long time coming
Colts coach Harold Davis, a 1982 DeSales alum, has fielded numerous questions about the new stadium throughout the preseason. Now it’s time to focus on football.
“It’s exciting to know that there are going to be a lot of people there who haven’t been around DeSales football in a while,” said Davis, whose brother, Charlie, is traveling from Knoxville, Tennessee, to attend the game. “For one, I’m really looking forward to it for the alumni. And I think it’s going to be great for the kids as well.”
DeSales is coming off an 11-3 season that ended with a loss to eventual state champion Mayfield in the semifinals of the Class 2-A playoffs. The Colts return six starters on offense and three on defense.
Davis said Thursday that senior Brayden Recktenwald will get the start at quarterback after competing for the job with senior Alec Brothers and sophomore Aaron Pfaadt.
Many had considered Brothers the front-runner for the position, but Davis said he didn’t want him to have to play on both sides of the ball unless absolutely necessary. A free safety, Brothers is the Colts’ top returning tackler (69) and also had two interceptions last season.
“Brayden is the right guy for us right now,” Davis said. “His strengths are that he can run the offense well. He’s a quiet kid and a calm kid, so that will be good with the pressure he’s going to face and everything else that’s going to be going on with the stadium.”
The Colts return their top three running backs from last season in seniors Austin Tharp (786 yards, 11 TDs), Gilly Simpson (624 yards, 11 TDs) and Mitch Sirohman (281 yards, three TDs).
“We feel pretty good about all three of them,” Davis said. “The one good thing is that they all have experience from playing last year.”
Fairdale lost 17 seniors off last year’s 7-5 squad and returns just one starter on offense and four on defense. The roster features just six seniors.
Junior Korey Morgan is expected to get the start at quarterback. After playing as a freshman, Morgan missed all of last season with a hip injury sustained in an automobile accident.
“It’s not a natural position for Korey, but he’s a very gifted athlete,” coach Matt Wright said, adding that senior Jordan Brock also could see time at quarterback.
The opener marks a tough early-season stretch for Fairdale, which will face Male on Sept. 2 and Fern Creek on Sept. 23. Male won the Class 6-A state title last year, and Fern Creek was a Class 5-A semifinalist.
Wright expects a special atmosphere at DeSales on Friday.
“I told the guys that you’re going to have the best atmosphere for a first game that you can have,” he said. “We talk about measuring-stick games, and this is definitely a measuring-stick game. We’ll see where we stand after this game.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
GAME OF THE WEEK
* Who: Fairdale at DeSales.
* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
* Jason’s pick: DeSales 35-7.