The truest, most pure form of American sporting culture can be found on Friday nights, when communities rally around high schools and celebrate sports and a general sense of togetherness.
No matter the stadium, the size of the crowd or the level of competition, there’s something universal about high school football and what it represents.
In that way, consider this a collection of America’s most authentic sporting cathedrals, a selection of 16 unique and spectacular high school football stadiums, each notable in its own way. Some feature spectacular natural beauty, while others boast awe-inspiring facilities. A handful possess history and tradition handed down from generations ago.
How did we pick our Sweet 16? We researched stadiums across the country, considering facilities across the nation to find the fields and facilities that are most unique for some reason or another. We started with a group of more than 30 stadiums par excellence, then whittled down to our group of 16 via rigorous internal debate between the USA TODAY High School Sports staff in an effort to balance facility strengths.
Now it’s up to you to decide which is America’s best high school football stadium. The Final Round is officially underway. Voting ends at 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 4.
Round 1: Oct. 15-21
Round 2: Oct. 22-27
Round 3: Oct. 28-31
Final Round: Nov. 1-4
Opened in 1936, this venue sits in a park which straddles the state border. Mitchell Stadium was named for the city manager of Bluefield, West Virginia, who oversaw funding and construction of the venue. Mitchell serves as the home to both Bluefield High in West Virginia and Graham High directly across the border in Virginia.
R.R. Jones Stadium
The “Lady on the Hill” looks a bit like Chicago’s Soldier Field, but with a far more intimate setting. The venue, originally built in 1916 and reconstructed in 1993, boasts a capacity of nearly 7,500. It bears the name of a longtime El Paso High principal.