Football has been a staple at Battle Ground High School for 100 years.
On Friday, Sept. 30, community members, sports lovers and the football team commemorated the centennial celebration during a tailgate and football game against Mount Tahoma in Battle Ground.
“This is such an honor to be at the school here and be part of … the history and tradition of this school,” BGHS Athletic Director Matt Stanfill said. “For me, to be able to be here and be a part of this … it’s an honor. It’s really humbling.”
Battle Ground High School’s first football team was formed in 1922. Since then, the program has evolved. Stanfill, who is a former athlete, said the training, equipment and techniques have changed.
“My boys said, ‘oh Dad, you were such a good athlete,’” he said. “I’m like ‘no, compared to what these kids do today, what’s the expectations of them, the things they have to abide by, the training regimens, the weight rooms and the other things that are involved are just amazing.’”
Stanfill noted the older generations were “gutsy, hard-nosed working guys” and “tough men that love the game” who didn’t have safety equipment but played because of their love of the sport.
At the game, multiple honorary captains who previously played on the team were present. They included Dave Johnson, George Weisenborn, Randy Stewart and Mick Hoffman. George Birrer, who graduated in 1956, and Ray Weisenborn, who graduated in 1959, were former players who made an appearance as well.
“It’s mind-boggling because it just seems almost out of place,” Ray Weisenborn said about the 100-year milestone. “I mean (in) 1922, how many students were going to Battle Ground at that time? Three hundred maybe? It’s just neat that somebody took the initiative to do this.”
Ray said his brother, George, played on the BGHS team when they were the only team in the division to go undefeated. Three teams were unable to score against them in the 1955 season. George traveled from his home in Colorado to partake in the 100-year celebration.
“We were at Olympia and we pulled in there and they had a big sign … that said, ‘where’s Battle Ground?’ Well if we got them beat, we let them know where Battle Ground was,” George said.
During halftime, the BGHS band played “Stars and Stripes Forever” as the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented a large American flag. The school also handed out “patriot popcorn” coupons so veterans could get free popcorn in honor of their service.
Along with excited fans and history buffs, the stadium hosted a number of food trucks and also had a tent that showed off memorabilia from the team in the past. Items included old letterman jackets, jerseys, plaques and raincoats.
The BGHS wrestling team sold pizza, pulled pork, burgers and other food, while the cheerleading team sold cookies.
Battle Ground High School lost the game against Mount Tahoma, 54-41.
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