It was just a small window, one night, but for those who call Louisa County home, it was all too welcome. Nobody in Central Virginia throws a Friday night football festival like the Lions do. And although Orange County is a close rival, this wasn’t a playoff game or likely a game that will decide anyone’s postseason fate.
But it had that kind of feel for the Lions.
“Out of all the games I’ve played here at Louisa, this one was up there in terms of how special it was,” Dennis said. “A rivalry game, it’s the first game of the year, packed crowd — the only thing you can do is go to work.”
For the last two weeks, school and Louisa County has been about meetings, more meetings, questions, red tape — everything but actually being a part of the school. With some resolutions made, in particular as to where the high school students will be located (the middle school) and when (three days a week), there is still a lot of resolution left to take place. It’s still very much up in the air as to whether Louisa High will be simply rennovated or condemned and built anew.
Former high school athletic director and assistant principal, now assistant superindendent Doug Straley is credited for creating the circus that is football in Louisa. The last two weeks for he and his colleagues has been frustrating to say the least. For Straley, getting a chance to participate in the weekly fall event that he helped turned into such a unique environment was a welcome vacation.
“Friday nights always meant something special at Louisa but I think it has new meaning now, bringing everyone back together,” Straley said. “It was an exciting day. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Today you could feel the excitement in the air, see people getting excited, arriving early and filling the stands. It’s back to normal here in the jungle.”
The athletic fields are one of the few things Louisa students can still claim as part of their school lives. And unfortunately, before Friday’s contest the Lions stadium was vandalized with spray paint whether it was all over the press box, or on the field. For a group of students that just want to something that feels regular, it was a frustrating incident. Both Louisa and Orange law enforcenment agenciesare collaborating are trying to uproot the culprits.
“The kids were pretty upset about the field situation,” Meeks said. “Right now, the nicest thing we’ve got is this field. All the schools have some damage and in the high school its extensive. It’s kind of a pride point. We have one of the nicest fields in the state of Virginia and that’s why we walk the field after the games and fix the divots.”
After combing the turf and mending troubled spots, the Lions walked back home. That used to mean taking the exit from where they enter in the stadium. The walk home is now a reminder when each game is over — they leave going out the endzone facing the middle school, the same way visiting teams leave the stadium. That’s going to take some getting used to, but the three hours before that? That’s always going to feel like home.
“This is our house,”Meeks said. “It felt awesome to get everything behind us, walk out here for a couple of hours and the only care in the world is football, that felt great.”
The Lions have another home game before they are able to get back into school. The football team helped move much of the high school essentials over to the middle school this week. After they play Courtland on Friday, they’ll have a weekend and come the following Monday, it’ll be back to the books. That might be off putting when you’re coming off of summer vacation, but don’t expect Louisa’s students, teachers and administrators to feel that way. Being all but shutdown for 20 days has the community eager to get back into the classroom.
“September 12th we’re opening school back up,” Straley said. “That’s going to be a big day for us, getting life back to somewhat normal. I think everybody’s ready to do that.”